Friday, October 6, 2017

TV Marketing: Fostering Criticism

The industry-wide opportunity for television recommendation in Southeast Asia

Our favorite shows shock us, make us weep, fill us with anger, leave us hanging. When we're charged with all that entertainment-enabled emotion, it sometimes seems necessary to process our feelings and reactions. While I turn to friends, fellow fans and loved ones to gush, roar, wonder or praise, I've found another source that also helps me do the same. In effect, I have become a consumer of a second set of adjacent media - recaps, criticism and reviews.

The day after every Game of Thrones episode, I have a set of podcasts to get other reactions to those killer set pieces and plot twists. (I have even more podcasts for Bachelor Nation processing which, in case you couldn't tell, is my very guilty pleasure.) AfterBuzz, a "TV after-show network", has become a favorite YouTube channel, where panels of hosts recap and react to episodes of popular programs. In Western markets, there are a host of television critics, blogs, podcasts and programs for whom television recaps and critiques are the entire content roster.

Television junkies are always looking out for new shows to try and as a fan and avid viewer, I depend on this ecosystem to highlight programs that are worth watching. It is a mix of professional and influencer word-of-mouth.

When Netflix announced their entry into Southeast Asia, I wondered how they would spread the word about their programs organically to the segment of television fans. Everyone is a fan of one program or another nowadays, but television criticism seem to be nascent in SEA. A thorough scan is certainly needed, but as far as my main cities go, no notable e- Singapore or Manila.

There doesn't seem to be a shortage of entertainment fans in Asia, and networks handle the official promotions. The gap that stands out is the criticism layer that is key to maintaining word-of-mouth, helping to build demand and acting as influencers to interested audiences. This may be a local sub-industry or category that needs to be developed. A brand like Netflix would be poised to start this, in partnership with online publishers or even an independent program.

I'm not talking about lifestyle columnists who cover a show once in awhile, or entertainment gossip. I'm talking about Matt Zoller Seitz, the dedicated recppars at Entertainment Weekly, or NPR's Monkey See. A sharp focus on television writing, recommendations (or disapproval) and criticism.

One could claim that there are hoards of recaps and reviews already existing. A simple Google search for any show will garner SERPs-ful of coverage. Though that may be the point - those already aware can easily find Western perspectives, but those who are on the lookout for new shows to try may not have a trusted, established local voice alerting them to interesting content. This would allow recommendations to go beyond the obvious hits and more into the long tail. For example, One Day At A Time is loved by critics abroad, but I've never heard anyone in Singapore or Manila talking about it. Or the original comedy specials that are low-barrier but killer entertainment - and I'm not just talking about Fil-Am Jokoy, but also Ali Wong and Michael Che.

It will be interesting to see if this side of entertainment marketing and coverage develops specific to Asia, whether organically or spurred by one or more streaming networks. Further, as the OTT industry (Netflix, Hooq, iFlix, etc.) evolves in the region, it will be interesting to see what practices will be taken from the West or what new ones emerge.



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