All3Media International has opened up in Asia ahead of ATF and now has a local team pushing drama, factual and, increasingly, factual entertainment. TBI speaks to local boss Sabrina Duguet about the base, and how All3 wants to be at the forefront of a fact-ent revolution in the region
All3Media’s new Asian office is just two days old when, in mid-November, TBI speaks to Sabrina Duguet, the former All3Media International formats chief who is running the new operation.
The intention of getting boots on the ground in Asia gained traction at All3Media when it moved from private equity ownership a few years ago, she explains.
“The idea had been in people’s minds for some time, and became more urgent when Discovery and Liberty bought us,” she says. “That allowed us to plan projects for the long term, and they asked us to look at expansion and where we wanted to grow the business.”
The launch also follows a wider structural change at All3Media International that has seen responsibilities divided up along regional, rather than genre, lines. The new Asian base will be shopping factual, factual entertainment, and drama accordingly. With a catalogue well stocked with fact-ent, it is in prime position as the genre starts to take off in the region.
Talent and studio formats remain popular, but buyers and commissioners are now willing to talk about fact-ent too, according to Duguet. “It is still new in the region,” she says. “I would have said Japan was one of the most unlikely territories in the region to do it, but we have now done Undercover Boss and Gogglebox there. It was completely new for them.”
Japanese public broadcaster NHK piloted Undercover Boss – the Studio Lambert format that sees a company chief going back to the floor incognito – before committing to a full series.
“It’s an opportunity,” Duguet says. “We know if Undercover Boss can work in Japan it can work elsewhere.
“What’s changed with fact-ent is that people are willing to talk about it. Before it was all about gameshows and talent shows, but now people know it can work. There’s a shift in the industry.”
All3 faced the choice most international companies are presented with when launching an office in southeast Asia: Hong Kong or Singapore? It chose the latter, setting up in the One George Street skyscraper in the centre of town, placing it close to the pan-regional international channels that have a bases nearby.
As well as fact-ent doors opening, the All3 Asian team also want to take advantage of being new in town, and having clear run at a lot of the titles in the catalogue.
“Asia has never been a focus territory for us, so we never had a team dedicated to the region,” Duguet says. “That means a lot of our content and key brands are unexploited in the region. It’s an open door.”
Her team includes Kit Yow, the former 8TV Malaysia staffer who has joined as sales manager, and Alexander Euler, who came across from FremantleMedia’s local office.
The new team is hoping to cook up some Asian business for Gordon Ramsay shows, and content from the celebrity chef’s new prodco, Studio Ramsay. Endemol Shine cooking competition juggernaut Masterchef is now on Lifetime in the region, and All3 wants to push the likes of Kitchen Nightmares (left) to Asian buyers (the show is from All3-backed Optomen and is part of the sales push after Optomen’s shows were added to the wider All3 library).
To that end, and to mark the opening of the new HQ, there will be an ATF event at Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen restaurant. This, like ATF itself, is in the Marina Bay Sands hotel complex in Singapore, and though the chef is filming in LA he will send a video message.
Through its work with China Media Management Inc. (CMMI) in recent years, All3 has broken shows in China. Duguet says sales increased four-fold last year, and All3Media International CEO Louise Pedersen (right) says opening up a Singapore base was a natural next step for the distributor.
“Over the last few years, we’ve had significant interest in our catalogue in the region – it’s worth noting we’ve had four entertainment shows running in China over the last few years for example, and we have made major inroads with key broadcasters such as NHK in Japan,” says Pedersen, who rejoined All3 this year.
“It’s a very dynamic industry and continent. We have learnt a lot through the adaptions of our shows in region, and we are looking to work more closely with local broadcasters.”
The other part of the plan is to work with local producers with a view to taking Asia-originated content elsewhere in the region, and world.
“We are exploring local production and exploiting local content,” Duguet says. “We are saying we are a British company and production group, but we want this to be a two-way street, and to look at opportunities that come from the region.”
The company helped create, and is backing, the first-ever ATF Formats Pitch at the market. All3Media America boss Greg Lipstone and All3Media International marketing chief Rachel Glaister are judging export-friendly formats from Asian producers. Asif Zubairy, commissioning editor of entertainment for ITV and Deborah Sargeant, chief creative officer of Second Star Productions, which is part of the All3-backed Objective Media Group, will round out the panel.
If formats are fertile ground for international distributors in Asia, UK drama has traditionally been a hard sell beyond Australia and New Zealand (where All3 has its only prodco in the region, The Brokenwood Mysteries producer South Pacific Pictures).
New platforms are, however, opening up scripted TV. “Drama does well in New Zealand and Australia, but can be hard in Asia,” says Duguet. “There are, however, new VOD platforms creating new ways of doing business and new windowing opportunities.”
Clearly, All3 wants traction across all genres – from British cop shows to global fact-ent formats. The first steps will, however, be about making new friends, as well as simply hitting the numbers.
“If we can prove in the first 6-to-8 months that we have reached out and done deals with players who we haven’t worked with before, that will be a sign of growth,” Duguet says. “It’s not just about revenue.”