The first panel discussion of the APEX Asia Regional Conference brought together leading IFE specialists to discuss the booming Asian content industry, the trends and challenges unique to various Asian audiences, and the opportunities that lie ahead for local distributors.
Encore Inflight Limited‘s Jovita Toh identified that one of the major challenges with Asian content is that film producers are expecting more money for better films in the inflight market where prices are traditionally fixed. “As a distributor, we have to take responsibility to educate studios on volume of content we take from them,” notes Toh.
Another challenge the market faces is clearing rights for content on a broad international scale. But Scott Hiniker, director, Commercial Business Development, NHK CosmoMedia America reassured that this process is becoming easier .”The trend is for domestic broadcast to fall under Japanese rights and everything else would be worldwide,” explains Hiniker.
An Emerging Content Market
Fame Universal Entertainment Limited‘s, Ramy Choi, describes the Asian box office industry as extremely promising.
“Nowadays China is very supportive of young directors and [the film industry] has seen a 30 percent growth from last year,” says Choi.
Dominic Green, APEX board member and moderator agreed and cited that 100 new screens are being added to Chinese cinemas every week. “Within a few years China will become the biggest cinema buying audience, surpassing the US,” he added.
What’s Big in Japan?
Do Asian passengers consume similar content compared to other passenger markets? There are definitely similarities, with Hollywood genres being at the forefront of the market however, Hiniker notes differences in the Japanese market. “Epic dramas and modern serial dramas are the most popular programs in Japan right now,” says Hiniker. Choi adds that Korean movies are gaining in popularity in the Chinese market and are becoming very competitive.
Toh pointed to the Chinese content coming out of Europe, stating that the genre is “giving a new style to Asian content,” and although many Asian carriers currently shy away from these movies, a number of international carriers are beginning to pick them up.
From an airlines perspective, cost will always be important but at the rate the Asian film industry is growing, we will likely see airlines adapting and expanding their Asian content inflight. Toh is optimistic: “acquiring Asian content is getting easier, it’s a whole new world today.”