A+E Networks Asia marketing boss: ‘we are very anti-YouTube’


L:R Foo, Nien Lau, McKay, Schofield

The Asian head of marketing for pay-tv content provides A+E Networks Asia has told a forum that the company was “anti” Google and its video service YouTube arguing that using the platform is diverting audiences and advertisers away from their digital properties.

Speaking, on a panel yesterday, at the Creative Content Production Conference at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, in Singapore, Michele Schofield senior vice president of programming and marketing spoke about the push from clients towards digital and the poor return offered by YouTube.

“I can tell you as a company we are very anti-YouTube,” said Schofield. “We do not like Youtube at all. I just sent our company an email saying we have 360,000 people who just watched our show and original productions are pirated all over YouTube and it really gets under my skin.”

“The reason our company doesn’t like YouTube is that the cents on the dollar that we will get in advertising. We want to drive them to our websites that’s our next big thing.”

Schofield made the comment while on a panel discussing “What do Asia viewers want and would pay for?” together with 18g Pictures’s producer Chee Nien Lau, activeTV Asia president Michael McKay and moderated by Tai Pan Films’s Juan Foo.

She then went on to describe the pressure from clients to have a comprehensive digital offering as part of a wider package.

“(Clients) want us to start with digital which is a challenge for us because we are a TV channel and so we don’t want to start with digital we want to start with the TV show but I see where they are going,” she said. “They are seeing that Disney are paying $500m for digital studio and saying how do I get our production companies ahead of the curve,”

“We as an organisation have to be in digital we have realised. Our ad sales dollars are walking out the door to websites — all the clients are very excited about digital and they are shifting their money to digital so while we have previously been competing with free to air (channels) now we are competing with digital who want to spend their money on YouTube.”

“As a linear TV channel we now need to now have a one two punch offering where we can give you the TV channel to sponsor, we can give you a very branded integrated offering and we can give you webisodes and a whole online experience. We have to be there.”

Her fellow members agreed with some of her concerns about digital and in particular expressed concerns about whether the growing demand for digital content was being factored into budgets.

“I agree. From a producer’s point of view we talk about stretched budgets etc and now there is ‘and while you’re there'”, said McKay referring to additional digital services now expected.

“But you can’t expect a producer to run a serious digital program for you within your existing budget. It is highly unlikely and I think what you will get (if you do) is a whole load of disappointment.

Panellist Nien Lau also spoke echoing the remarks from the earlier key note by Asia Endemol boss Fotini Paraskakis about the need for producers to think outside of their own countries.

“The challenge to bring up is that we are fragmented in the sense that we are fragmented across South East Asia — the languages are all different, the cultures are all different — and what works in Singapore may not work in Indonesia,” said Nien Lau.

“Even content developed in the Malaysian market may not travel. So while there are similarities there are also differences.”

Nic Christensen


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