Video content budgets across India, Korea and Southeast Asia climbed 21% to reach $10.4bn in 2021, and are forecast to grow 15% to $12bn in 2022, according to a report from Media Partners Asia (MPA).
Asian content investment surged last year as key operators “replenished content pipelines after the initial waves of Covid depleted programming inventories in 2020”, according to the report, entitled Asia Video Content Dynamics 2022.
The report tracks content consumption, investment and production costs across seven key Asian markets: India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The figures include free-to-air (FTA), pay-TV, online video and film investments.
All those verticals are growing except for theatrical films, which saw investment contract 2% as pandemic restrictions delayed releases in many markets. However, film investment is expected to grow 140% in 2022 as theatres start screening new locally-produced movies.
Pay-TV was the biggest vertical in 2021 – accounting for 46% of total industry content investment – reflecting the strength of the pay-TV sectors in India and Korea.
OTT content was the fastest growing vertical, up 83% year-on-year to become the second largest vertical with 26% of industry investment. FTA ranked third with 25% of the total.
Korea and India were the largest content investment markets overall with a combined $7.4bn; generating particularly strong OTT investment growth. Other markets are reaching around $400m-$900m each, with Thailand and Indonesia also contributing significantly to OTT investment growth.
The report found that growth will continue in 2022, albeit at a slower rate, with investment up an estimated 15% to $12bn. Again, India and Korea are driving the bulk of the increase, but all markets and verticals are expected to grow. Investment in online video content will grow by almost $700m.
“Inflation, particularly with online originals, is clearly a factor driving up content costs. Online video operators, broadcasters and producers need to see that higher budgets translate into more premium viewing experiences; otherwise, the cost increases will not be sustainable,” said MPA Vice President Stephen Laslocky commenting on the report.
“Internationally successful programs remain the content licensing Holy Grail which thus far, only Korean dramas and some anime as well as US and UK content have sustainably achieved. Some Thai content has succeeded outside of Thailand. Quality production values, strong storylines with a focus on younger online demographics will be the building blocks of future investment strategies.”
Laslocky also said that the expanding online video sector “has been a boon to independent producers” as profit margins have stabilized at 10% or more across much of the region.
“More can be done to bolster independent producers including additional compensation for original concepts, commensurate rewards for breakout successes and expanded use of pipeline deals (which allows producers to more reliably recoup overheads). In exchange, producers need to be transparent with production costs. Commissioners need to be willing and able to audit costs.”
The report also found that TV ratings continue to decline as viewers transition to online video. However, video consumption remains skewed towards UGC platforms (YouTube, TikTok etc) which account for 95% of consumption in Vietnam and 82% in Korea.