Despite Hong Kong’s tunnel vision for TVB dramas, the popularity of pay-TV is on the rise.
According to the latest data by Digital TV Research, 232 million households in China subscribe to pay-TV while Hong Kong has a penetration rate of 96%.
For CASBAA’s CEO of one year Christopher Slaughter (pictured), this is no surprise.
“All of our markets are exciting,” he says. “There is definitely a lot of stuff going on, given the sophistication of pay-TV at all of these [Asia] regions.
“In India, for example, there are 800 paid TV channels – all homegrown,” he said.
But in a landscape where even free TV is threatening to become an irrelevant medium, Slaugther makes a case for his business.
Pay-TV is more niche
Though he said that “there’s nothing new under the sun” in terms of TV advertising formats, Slaughter said pay-TV channels offer a more targeted platform compared to free TV.
“Yes, the proportion of people watching free TV is larger, but that platform is also for the mass market. Pay-TV talks to a more targeted and effective audience, meaning less wastage in advertising dollars,” he said. “Unless you sell toothpaste, then that’s for everyone.”
Education and accessibility will defeat piracy
While the problem of piracy has always plagued the entertainment industry, Slaughter is convinced that education and easy accessibility of content would remedy the situation.
In Singapore, for example, CASBAA has launched an online directory where people can access free video legally both online and on mobile.
“People are willing to pay for content, just look at the success of iTunes. More people are willing to pay if they find that the content is convenient and at a reasonable price point. We’re working on online delivery, engagement, over-the-top television and building audience relationships.”
When compared to the music industry, which saw a dip in revenue due to illegal downloads, Slaughter said it made a mistake in trying to lock the content in one single format – CDs – without intentions to expand to other platforms, which is opposite to TV’s strategy.
“We’re not trying to lock the genie in one bottle: we’re trying to get it into as many bottles as possible. But the reality is that it all depends on broadcasting rights.”
Digital technology is a threat and opportunity
The advancement of digital technology, said Slaughter, is CASBAA and, perhaps, the entertainment industry’s largest potential threat (or opportunity).
“It’s an enabler and a disruptor,” he said. “Sometimes, we can get carried away with new technology, but the opportunity for growth is substantial.”