NBCU takes long term view in Asia

22 November 2011

SINGAPORE: NBCUniversal, the media group, is taking a long term approach to building up its operations in Asia, reflecting the need to adopt a nuanced model in the region.

Speaking to the Asia Media Journal, Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal's international president, reported the success of Diva Universal and E Entertainment in this territory had not been replicated across its stable.

"In Asia we have a lot of different channels, and most of them lose money," he said. "What we should have is less channels, and more quality channels that make money."

"[T]he reality is we need to look at each market and each business segment and really get the structure of the business right, the people right, and more importantly get people working together."

Currently, 92% of the revenues made by NBCUniversal and Comcast's joint venture are drawn from the US. The broader goal is to raise the share generated by overseas markets to around 20%.

Alongside overhauling its regional management team earlier this year, the company plans to enhance its production output in Asia, where it has a local hub in Malaysia, to deliver localised versions of hit US and European shows.

Similarly, the firm's Geneon animation unit in Japan, and Matchbox, a recent purchase in Australia, can potentially reduce the existing reliance on imports.

"Our two biggest franchises internationally, House and Law & Order, are both getting pretty old," Shell said.

As part of a more integrated approach than was previously applied, NBCUniversal may pursue acquisitions, investments and partnerships - covering content or distribution - in nations like Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

In an indication of the timescale under consideration, it is also weighing up the possibility of opening one, and maybe two, theme parks in Asia – where it already has sites in Japan and Singapore – to boost the position of its TV stations.

"You are not going to increase share of revenue outside the US by launching a channel here or there or making a small investment," said Shell.

"It's going to have to be ultimately picking a growth strategy which is going to get you to scale in any number of places and in any number of businesses. Realistically, we're years away from that."

Data sourced from Asia Media Journal; additional content by Warc staff