Viacom expands in Asia

15 December 2011

SINGAPORE: Viacom, the media group, is ramping up its activity throughout Asia, pursuing strategies ranging from producing localised content to building links with successful broadcasters.

Indra Suharjono, Viacom International Media Networks' managing director, North and Southeast Asia, has been charged with strengthening leading brands like MTV and Nickelodeon.

"We are in the midst of creating what we call an Asian orbit, which would be the hub to produce content for Asia," she told the Asia Media Journal. "We are putting out tests to produce in various countries to help us make the right decision."

Among the nations under consideration are China, Japan and Singapore, with this new unit's emphasis likely to fall on major projects, and material that can be shown in several markets.

Shibuhara Girls, a reality series from MTV Japan following the lives of two models and two singers, was a domestic hit and was made available in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

"Localisation is very important. But I don't produce cheap shows with local faces and call it local production," said Suharjono. "In fact, it kills me when I see shows that have been localised badly."

Currently, India delivers 61% of Viacom's revenues, with North Asia and Southeast Asia on 13% each, and Greater China posting 7%, meaning significant room for growth remains in many markets.

As part of its expansion drive, Viacom has formed a tie-up with Chosun Media Group in South Korea. It has also established a joint venture with SBS, one of the top three broadcasters in South Korea.

"Most of their content does really well outside Korea," said Suharjono. "It is my plan to bring MTV Korea outside Korea as well."

Looking to North Asia, the initial goal is to make further progress in China, Indonesia and Singapore, using a similar model to that in India, where a partnership with Network18 yielded the highly successful channel Colors.

Other deals have been brokered with MNC Group in Indonesia and BHD in Vietnam, as Viacom seeks to ensure that its brands gain tractions elsewhere.

"Nick should be number one in kids and family, MTV should be number one in youth and music," Suharjono said. "I think we can, but you know what? In the past, no one dared to dream that dream."

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