August 19, 2014 01:00
By Watchiranont Thongtep
The domestic market for TV programme material in Singapore is very small. But MediaCorp, the national broadcaster, and hundreds of other independent TV content producers are keen to invest in quality content to attract new audiences overseas.
Singapore-made TV content has gained international recognition and entertained audiences in some 70 countries around the world. Among those winning content from Singapore were production house Very!’s factual entertainment series Chasing Happiness, which won a Rockie at the BANFF World Media Festival in 2013; and The Great Elephant Gathering by Beach House Pictures, which reaped a Silver Medal Award for the Nature & Wildlife category at the New York Festivals 2013.
From conventional programme material, many producers are now focusing on transmedia storytelling and new formats to cater to audience via multiple platforms. A notable example is MediaCorp's trilogy drama The Journey: A Voyage (Part one).
Doreen Neo, managing director for MediaCorp Studios, a TV production arm of MediaCorp, says such a move would help the whole industry to compete with high quality contents. MediaCorp has experimented on transmedia to support its IPs contents, too. A good example is the trilogy drama The Journey: A Voyage (Part one).
In line with this 32-episode series on free-to-air TV, MediaCorp also produced a comic book based on its original drama and organised programme-related museum exhibitions, DVDs, merchandise, current affairs series, behind the scene clips and a heritage tour. These series of drama-related activities can be offered also for the overseas market.
To reach a new audience in a new media platform, MediaCorp's TV series “96c Cafe’’ was first telecast online on xinmsn.com, a website in collaboration between MediaCorp and Microsoft, and continued its run as a 20-episode series on free-to-air TV.
Beach House Pictures' Hidden Cities Extreme had viewers engaged on its Facebook page which shared videos, images and upcoming episodes of the programme.
Utilising new transmedia, TV producers can monetise and maximise content copyrights for both the domestic market and overseas distribution. In terms of production, MediaCorp still plays a leading role in the industry with production capacity of more than 1,800 hours of Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil programmes for local broadcast a year.
Apart from this state media enterprise, many independent TV producers collaborated with international media companies like HBO Asia, History (Asia), National Geographic Channel (Asia), ABC TV and Food Network Asia to produce TV drama, factual entertainment, documentary, lifestyle shows and animations.
The great efforts from the ground are always important for sustainable growth in the film and TV industry in Singapore. However, strong support from the government must be combined into such development.
Tomorrow, The Nation will reveal thoughts and strategies of the Media Development Authority of Singapore on this issue.
Remarks: This is the second part of a fivepart series. This first part published on August 18. This series was done as part of the author’s participation in the 2014 Asia Journalism Fellowship (AJF), a threemonth training programme for 16 senior journalists across Asia, under the Temasek Foundation and the Nanyang Technological University.