Q&A with Sony Pictures Asia boss Hui Keng Ang

Hui Keng AngHui Keng Ang is the senior vice president and general manager of Sony Pictures Television Networks Asia, having moved into the top job just under a year and a half ago.

In this Q&A with Robin Hicks, Mumbrella Asia’s editor, “HK” talks about his hopes for the network’s top entertainment format Asia’s Got Talent, the biggest challenges he faces this year, and why the pay-TV industry should look to Malaysia as a role model for measurement.

Asia’s Got Talent, which is billed as the biggest talent show in the world, recently debuted on AXN across the region. What does success for the show look like to you?

AGTI would look at three areas, the first being the audience. We’re relying on data points from people metres, so we’ll be looking at all those countries where ratings are measured.

The second is the response we get from the trade community, including affiliates and pay-TV platforms, and the conversations we have about the show when we meet.

The third is media uptake and reviews of the show.

If any of those elements are missing, we wouldn’t have achieved what I’d like.

What are your biggest concerns for the year ahead as a pay-TV broadcaster in Asia?

There are not so much worries for us as opportunities, measured by our ability to continue to engage our audience beyond the living room, in digital, and in partnership with various pay-TV partners. Of course there’s room to do more. Our goal is to make sure that when people want to consume our product, they get our product. That is an opportunity I want to constantly focus on.

The second goal is to expand our portfolio. We have a strong general entertainment offering in English through AXN and Sony Channel, our companion channel to AXN which is more female skewed, and we also have strong Asian content. We aim to build on these two core pillars.

What are your thoughts on the year ahead?

I’m excited. There are still huge opportunities within the pay-TV industry and 2015 won’t be different. If we stick with where we should focus, on our audience, and continue delivering to it, we’ll be in good shape this year.

What about piracy? That seems to be a perennial hot topic in Asia.

Of course it’s an issue. If I say I’m not concerned, I would be lying. But it’s a problem that’s been around for 10 years. We’ll continue to work to fight, not just me, but the industry too, and with partners in the trade, and regulators. It’s an ongoing issue, and we need to continue to engage the various stake holders to get to grips with piracy.

At the recent CASBAA Convention, there was a heated debate on measurement, which seems to be pay-TV’s Achilles Heel. Everyone seems to agree that there needs to be a unified measurement system, but some do not want to reveal their data, while others do not want to pay for it. What are your thoughts on the issue?

I think the day is coming when the industry will agree on a common system that pay-TV players and advertisers can use. I certainly see very positive developments in Malaysia, led by Astro [Malaysia’s leading pay-TV network]. I have every confidence that Astro’s team, together with the research company they are working with, will come up with a system that is reliable.

Other countries in Asia can use Malaysia as a model and learn from their experience. Clients in other countries will start to demand the same standard of service and quality of data as in Malaysia. Clients want reliable and much richer, deeper data than they have now for a wider demographic profile.

So what’s on your hit list for things to achieve this year?

  1. Asia’s Got Talent – I want it to be a big hit.
  2. To continue to invest in The Sony Channel and to level it up as a strong companion to AXN.
  3. To continue to invest in Asian content and expand the content portfolio.

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