How Jon Penn is securing homes for Blue Ant Media content across APAC region

Blue Ant Media

Blue Ant has a varied offering, with FAST channels to Fetch, pay TV brand Love Nature, and a documentary portfolio.

Jon Penn is the managing director across Asia Pacific for Blue Ant Media. He works out of Sydney, looking after this territory for the Canadian-based producer, distributor, and channel operator.

His most recent deal was securing an agreement with Fetch for the launch of two FAST channels – Love Pets and Homeful. This brings the total of Blue Ant Media channels on the Fetch platform to five. It previously launched the free-streaming channels HauntTV and NatureTime on Fetch as well as pay TV channel Love Nature.

Penn knows his way around this part of the world. He spent over a decade with Fremantle, including time as CEO Asia Pacific, FremantleMedia Enterprises. He later moved to the BBC, where he was for close to a decade, including time as executive vice president – Asia Pacific.

Jon Penn

Penn joined Blue Ant Media in September 2023. He worked as an advisor during his time between BBC and Blue Ant. It was during that period he worked with Carlyn Staudt as a client. As EVP, global channels and brands at Blue Ant Media, Staudt is now his boss.

Penn runs the distribution business of Blue Ant Media in the region. He works out of Sydney and also oversees the recently opened Singapore office.

“The distribution business encompasses all program sales and pre-sales and we support co-production as well,” Penn told Mediaweek.

“The channels business, which in pay TV terms is principally Love Nature, our premium natural history brand, is carried in different places around the world and throughout the APAC region.”

Blue Ant expands Fetch partnership

Love Nature is branded pay TV on Fetch and is not a FAST channel. Fetch customers can access it through one of the Fetch channel packs. Prime Video also offers Love Nature for an extra fee to subscribers.

“The portfolio of FAST channels sees Fetch now carrying Homeful and Love Pets. We also represent format sales and we’re in discussions with various broadcasters about those as well.

“The distribution and channels part of the business is separate from the production side of Blue Ant Media. That is principally focused in Canada and the US.”

Looking at his division, Penn explained: “The production part of the company is the engine room that yields the rights for us to then take into distribution and to program into channels where we can as well.

 “We work on rights from the production companies, but we also acquire rights on the market as well and represent third-party producers.

“We bring it all together under the one roof and then look for the appropriate distribution opportunity, whether that be a finished program sale or a pre-sale to a broadcaster. Some of those programs are bought internally and turned into channels and they become a FAST channel and that goes to a distribution point.”

Bondi Vet

Bondi Vet goes around again

One piece of content that is very familiar to Australian viewers is Bondi Vet featuring Dr Chris Brown. The program sits on the Love Pets FAST channel.

Penn said: “That’s been around the block a few times that show, but it’s still in demand with viewers. It’s a fantastic property with an established fan base.

“The other FAST channel going to Fetch is Homeful, which I would describe as a home makeover destination. The core content is the Mike Holmes program library. He hosts Canadian home makeovers and home renovation.”

Holmes is no stranger to Foxtel viewers who’ve watched the Lifestyle channels.

Promo for the Homeful FAST channel

Growth of FAST

There are some pretty ambitious targets being floated about the potential size of the FAST market in Australia. Penn wouldn’t be drawn into putting a dollar value to the ad haul, but he did tell us: “It’s coming out of the blocks quickly and it’s growing rapidly. It is a new market but there is some overlapping with the existing advertising market and the channels business. Time will tell whether or not it’s an entirely new market or something that’s incremental to the existing business.

“We have carriage of some of our other FAST channels on 10 Play, 7 Plus, Samsung TV Plus, and Fetch.

“These platforms are getting behind FAST and there’s a bit of a discovery going on to work out what channels work, and what audiences are looking for.

“An advantage that Blue Ant Media has is that we’re already in the business of programming channels. Some of the other distributors who have entered the FAST space are new to the business of supplying finished channels. We went early into FAST and built out our existing programming and operations support functions to be able to support FAST.”

Blue Ant Media is present at larger buying markets around the world including the London Screenings and MIPCOM.

“For a mid-sized media company, we pack quite a punch in terms of our market presence and connectivity with clients,” said Penn.

Blue Ant Media distributed documentary Stormy

Recent Blue Ant programming

* A topical two-part documentary on Stormy Daniels. It was produced by Imagine Documentaries, Ron Howard’s documentary production company.

* The Hungry Games – Alaska’s big bear challenge from AMPLE Entertainment.

* Charles III – The coronation year from Oxford Films.

Blue Ant Media distibuted documentary Charles III

About Blue Ant Media

Blue Ant Media is a privately held, international production studio and rights business and channel operator. The company’s studio creates and distributes a slate of programming, in all content genres, for streaming and broadcasting platforms around the world.

Blue Ant Media also operates free streaming and pay TV channels under several media brands internationally, including Love Nature, Cottage Life, Smithsonian Channel Canada, BBC Earth Canada, HauntTV, Homeful, Drag Race Universe, Total Crime, Declassified, Love Pets and Love Drama.

Blue Ant Media is headquartered in Toronto, with six international offices in Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, London, Washington, and Sydney.

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