GroupM, one of Asia’s biggest media agency networks, is raising its profile as a rights-holder and producer of original content, financing several new TV shows based on GroupM-owned IP that will make their debut in the first half of 2016.
The shows are being developed from scratch rather than relying on tried-and-tested formats, a new venture in Asia for GroupM, which is starting to produce more programming to attract audiences rather than in response to advertiser requirements.
“If we don’t see something in the market that can fit that audience needs, we will partner up with someone to create something new or we will do it on our own,” GroupM’s APAC head of content, Josh Black, tells Media Business Asia.
“We’re doing that across several different ideas that we are going to bring into the market which are unique and haven’t been done before, for formats that we own the IP in,” Black adds.
“We’ve been really pushing that over the last three to six months,” he continues.
“Most of the deals will hit Q1, Q2 next year. We are working on one in the Philippines, a couple in China, and a couple in India.”
Creating branded content for advertisers, which is handled within GroupM’s client facing agencies such as Mindshare and MediaCom, remains the biggest business segment for GroupM Content.
Original content licensing and production, however, is the fast-growing area of the business, in Asia mainly focused on China, India, Indonesia and Thailand so far, through program sales or via proven formats such as Junior Masterchef and Take Me Out in Thailand.
Black is keen to push the business into new markets next year, while stepping up the slate of productions, especially in China and India.
Thanks to soaring production and marketing costs, the days when big advertisers such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble could afford to bankroll a single show in Asia’s growth markets are disappearing.
Many advertisers are reverting to simpler but lower-profile sponsorship deals instead.
GroupM, also involved in these big-budget advertiser-funded programs, is evolving its approach as well, seeking to move upstream into IP ownership and exploitation through GroupM Entertainment.
“It’s about creating something an audience wants to watch and wants to engage with,” Black says.
“If there’s relevancy for an advertiser to get involved we will certainly bring them in, but first and foremost it’s an audience-driven business.”
Most investments are geared towards TV, especially primetime and afternoon slots, as the primary form of entertainment for audiences across growth markets in Asia.
Marketing, critical in driving ratings, can encompass a wider range of media.
“Even if we do something onto TV, we are looking at any way we can to make it multiplatform,” says Black, who will be speaking at this week’s Digital Matters conference in Singapore.
“Even if it might be a TV format, there are still a huge amount of opportunities to leverage the show, the talent, the idea into a digital platform, through social media, through second screen content, because audiences don’t just live on TV sets.”