Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

Peter Olszewski round out the week’s media news in the Asian market

South China Morning Post digital design awards

The South China Morning Post won four awards in the 2016 edition of the US-based Society for News Design’s Best of Digital Design competition, announced this week.

All four digital design excellence awards were the work of Post’s digital artist, Costa Rican Marco Hernandez, who has previously won awards for infographics and data journalism in Spain, Britain and the US. Two of the Post’s awards were for single subject feature projects and two awards were in the graphics category for features and planned coverage.

The win was a first in the digital design category for the Post.

Digital ad spend to dominate in Hong Kong

Spending on digital advertising in Hong Kong will surpass traditional ad spend for the first time this year, according to a new industry survey conducted by the Hong Kong Advertisers Association and Nielsen. The survey showed that Hong Kong’s 100 major marketers plan to spend on average about 51% of their budget on digital advertising and 49% on traditional media campaigns.

Last year traditional ad spend accounted for 58% of the market. Total ad spend in Hong Kong fell 9% last year, when online and mobile platforms had a combined 13% share of total advertising expenditure. Television was the top media category for advertising, with a 30% share. Free newspapers had a 17% share, outdoor display had 15%, paid newspapers had 14%, magazines had 7% and radio had 4%.

Chinese video streamer iQiyi raises $2 billion

Chinese video streamer iQiyi, a subsidiary of Baidu, has raised US$1.53b (A$1.99b) in new funds, partly to ramp up its positioning in China’s hotly contested online entertainment sector. The investment was in the form of convertible bonds issued by iQiyi to investors led by Baidu and including other major participants such as Hillhouse Capital, Boyu Capital, Run Liang Tai Fund, IDG Capital, Everbright-IDG Industrial Fund and Sequoia Capital. Baidu claims iQiyi had 481 million monthly active users as of December 2016.

Filipino broadcaster fighting US pirates

Filipino broadcaster ABS-CBN is suing in the US federal court for damages of over $US8 million for  the website’s infringement of trademarks and registered copyrights of 27 of ABS-CBN’s TV shows and movies. The broadcaster is stepping up its anti-piracy enforcement this year, and in February it was awarded an amended default judgment of nearly US$11 million against 11 online streaming websites that allegedly regularly showcase pirated versions of ABS-CBN’s programming.

Hong Kong’s i-Cable posts another loss

One of Hong Kong’s leading integrated communications companies, internet service provider and pay-TV operator i-Cable Communications, reported a HK$313m (A$52.6m) annual loss for 2016, compared with a HK$233m loss for 2015. The company’s revenue is mainly composed of subscriptions, which dropped 7% YOY.

TV revenue decreased by 8%.

iflix appoints new CFO

Emerging markets internet TV service provider iflix has appointed of George Chmiel as chief financial officer and director of iflix International. Chmiel was previously managing director and CEO of iProperty Group, a leading Asian online property group. Before iProperty, he held several senior executive positions, including CEO and managing director  at LJ Hooker Group and CFO at REA Group.

Thai OOH company Plan B expanding 

Thailand’s SET-listed outdoor media company Plan B Media said it expects to outperform the overall media industry and secure its leadership among OOH media providers this year.

The company will continue to be an agent managing commercial rights for the Football Association of Thailand and Premier League Thailand Co. It will extend its OOH media coverage following urbanisation in Thailand’s provinces. It is also seeking partners for its planned expansion into other Asean countries.

BBC Worldwide sales in China and South Korea

BBC Worldwide has signed an MOU with iQiy, China’s online video platform, to run almost 300 hours of CBeebies preschool programming. This is the first time that CBeebies programs will be available in China on a digital platform. BBC Worldwide has also sold over 500 hours of natural history, science and documentary programming to South Korea’s JTBC cable network, owned by JoongAng Media Network (JMnet), one of South Korea’s largest media conglomerates.

HITS expands its OTT reach to Malaysia

English-language HITS, billed as the fastest-growing basic entertainment channel in Asia, expands its OTT reach and is now available via a carriage deal on Malaysia’s homegrown streaming service, tonton. tonton is Media Prima Television Networks-owned OTT platform’s offering of linear channels plus more than 23,000 hours of catchup and premium video programming. HITS is the newest English-language, Bahasa Malay and Chinese-subtitled linear channel added to tonton’s VIP service.

Staff cuts at Thai’s The Nation newspaper

The chopping of five longterm foreign sub-editors from the newsroom of The Nation newspaper in Thailand in late February was followed by the group announcing its vision for 2017 was to “become the leader in online media with 100% growth in online revenue to no less than Bt80m (A$3m) projected for this year”.

The Nation will target Thais and foreigners who use English, to “people from all over the world who want to know about Thailand and the country’s tourism destinations and do business in Thailand”. The Nation website will become a Thailand Portal, which will provide all information about Thailand.

Mediaweek Asia In Brief

• AXN, with its strong lineup of reality and drama series, led the pack in the 2016 ratings among 22 English general entertainment channels in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, with a 26% share during full day programming, and a 28% share during primetime (6pm-1am).

Phnom Penh’s Post’s editor-in-chief Chad Williams quit last week and management of Cambodia’s majority Australian-owned English language daily has yet to announce a replacement. The paper has made a number of cuts recently, including downsizing to 20 pages.

• Internet service provider iflix has entered Vietnam, its ninth market place. Tung Hoang, iflix Vietnam country manager, said, “We understand that countries are different and what local consumers want in each market is different. We have created our service in Vietnam specifically for a Vietnamese audience.”

• Thailand’s listed Workpoint Entertainment hopes to increase revenue by 20% through the sale of more of its TV shows to foreign operators this year. TV operators in Vietnam, Cambodia and the US are the biggest buyers of the company’s licensed programs, but Workpoint is also showcasing programs in Russia, Mexico and France.

• Singapore Press Holdings has signed a joint venture agreement with China’s largest online creative services platform, ZBJ Network. The deal will see both companies develop a B2B bilingual online creative services platform, said to be the first of its kind, targeting SMEs in Singapore, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.

• Singapore’s SportsHero Ltd – which claims to be the world’s first social network dedicated to sports prediction – commenced trading on the ASX on February 15. Following roadshows to brokers and investors in Singapore and Australia, it raised A$3.2 million through the issue of 64 million shares.

• Hong Kong’s biggest music and DVD retailer, HMV Digital China Group, has launched Hmvod, an online video streamer that will compete directly with the likes of Netflix in Hong Kong.

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