Adult Swim – too rude for Asia?

Robot ChickenYesterday, Turner announced it was to roll out its somewhat racy comedy channel Adult Swim in digital form across the region, having launched in Australia earlier this month.

But will the format work in Asia? Mumbrella Asia editor Robin Hicks spoke to Jeremy Carr, Turner’s Asia Pacific VP for entertainment, digital and syndication, about plans to grow the brand across the region.

Tell us about Adult Swim.

It’s unconventional entertainment for people who like animated comedy with an edge. The core target group is the hard-to-reach 16-34 year-old male who’s still a kid at heart and loves intelligent, gutter comedy.

It’s short-form, snackable, shareable content for men on the go. The name comes from the expression when the kids have left the pool, and it’s time for adults to swim.

In the US, it airs in a late-night block on Cartoon Network, and in Australia on Comedy Channel on Foxtel, as well as on most digital devices through the website.

What’s the model for selling and marketing the platform?

Jeremy Carr

Jeremy Carr

Turner is the content brand and IP provider. We curate, schedule and plan the content. Movideo is the technology platform partner, and MCM Entertainment is the sales agent on the ground in Australia. We’re looking to use a similar model for the region, and want to find partners that help distribute and sell the platform in addition to Turner marketing it.

What plans do you have to localise Adult Swim content for Asian audiences?

We’ve only just launched it in Australia, where we think the content should be a similar style to that showing in the US. As we build out the offering for Asia, we will populate it with more original content from local sources. But first, we need to build a base around the brand with existing content.

Why Australia first?

We launched in Australia first because video-on-demand is not a one size fits all market approach. You need to take a tailored approach to each territory in how you monetise the content.

Do you go with an advertising or premium VOD approach, and how do you go to market with the bandwidth available? Australia does not have the greatest bandwidth, but CPMs [cost per thousand] are high, much higher than in the rest of Asia. You look to the market where you can get the most return first.

Do you think the content, which includes a show about a foul-mouthed, binge-drinking rock band, could be too edgy for Asian tastes?

For some people, for sure. That’s another reason why Australia is a good market to start with. We will need to localise, edit and curate the content where necessary to adjust to cultural sensitivities in some markets.

Watch a promo for the Australian version of Adult Swim:

We could make it available tomorrow, but we need a proper strategy in place, which we’re still working through. You need to get the marketing right, the content needs to be discoverable via search, and you need a solid content seeding and syndication strategy. It’s not as simple as throwing the content out there and hoping it’ll work.

Is the market ready for it?

Absolutely. Look at the success of YouTube, which taps into the demand for snackable, shareable content. Adult Swim is our own branded experience offering that is similar, in a sense, to what the aggregators offer. But with Adult Swim, we’re offering a premium brand experience using great technology and a playlist the user can customise. If you want more Robot Chicken, you can get more Robot Chicken, or you can create a list of the funniest videos or the top trending videos of the week.

What are the opportunities for advertisers?

Behavioural targeting or contextual ads, using data to enable smarter, better targeted advertising.

What are your ambitions for Adult Swim?

I can’t say what our revenue targets are. But we want to be the leading unconventional entertainment source in Australia, then APAC.


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