ATF Online+ caps off its first week with fresh insights for 2021

The 21st Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), Asia’s leading entertainment content and conference, capped off the first week of its digital edition – ATF Online+, with 2,320 unique attendees from 60 countries and regions as of 4 December 2020. The platform is available on-demand until 28 February 2021.

ATF Online+ kicked off with an Opening Ceremony at the new state-of-the-art Hybrid Broadcast Studio located in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore on 1 December 2020. 

Singapore Communications and Information minister S Iswaran officiated the launch in front of a physical audience of key industry players. The event was concurrently streamed live to a global audience watching via ATF Online+ and on Facebook. 

Reed Exhibitions APAC president Yeh Chien E

The ceremony was followed by a fireside chat between Iswaran and Channel News Asia presenter and senior editor Steven Chia on the future of the media and entertainment industry. There he mentioned how companies need to create a wider variety of content, and the opportunities the Asian media market presents.

Like every year at ATF, new connections made and deals were announced, only virtual this time, at ATF Online+. 

ATF Online+ 2020 witnessed 1,215 companies and 15 official pavilions participating, with 4,156 programmes presented on the platform. The first official four-days also saw more than 15,500 meetings arranged, underpinning ATF’s importance as a platform to facilitate business dealings. The online meetings will continue until 28 February 2021.

ATF also continues to be a key year-end market where deals are sealed, with a host of partnerships and deals announced during the ATF week. Some of the announcements made during the week came from 7 Steps Production, iQiyi, ITV Studios, Mediacorp, Nippon TV, TechStorm and WarnerMedia.

141 industry experts delivered insights and discussed crucial topics at ATF Online+ sessions. This year’s conference saw a refreshed programme schedule, specifically tailored for the global online audience. Segmented into five broad areas that cut across 1 to 4 December, each component focused on bite-sized discussions specific to the various pillars within the industry.

Mornings with Industry Leaders 

Decision makers from the media, telecoms and entertainment industry took centre stage in the morning, sharing insights and thought-leadership on navigating the tides ahead and staying relevant amidst the changes. Top executives who participated in the fireside chats included ZEE5 global chief business officer Archana Anand, WarnerMedia EMEA & Asia (excl. China) president Priya Dogra, True Digital Group president Dr Michael Gryseels, and CANAL+ International CEO Jacques du Puy.

Lunchtime Buying

Key buyers took over the lunch hour sessions to give an insiders’ viewpoints and perspective on today’s buying strategies. Some of the panellists included  CatchPlay CEO Daphne Yang; ITV Studios Global Entertainment president Maarten Meijs; Youku and Alibaba Media & Entertainment Group VP Chao Gan; and 3 TV, MNC Media International Acquisition head Agustinus Bagus Abimanyu, sharing strategies in the dramas, formats, kids and docs (documentary) spaces.

Coffee Hour Content Showcase  

This segment saw top sellers from China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey showcasing the latest entertainment content and industry updates, together with a spread of scripted and unscripted formats opened for contracts for the industry.

Production Afternoons 

Format experts, creative leaders and decision makers took the afternoon to address issues and present user cases to advance production capabilities in the industry. Some of the speakers that took the virtual stage include TV Chosun executive director Seo Hye-jin; Bluebird Pictures founder, director and producer Yi Seung-jun; and Facebook Regional Marketing, Media Partnerships APAC Entertainment, News & Sports head Evelina Lye.

Southeast Asian Film Financing Forum (SAFF Forum) 

The annual film-focused forum rounded off the four-day event with discussions on Southeast Asian partnership in media – cutting across content, connectivity, and capability. Among those who took part were 108 Media CEO and founder Abhi Rastogi; Grabyo APAC senior director and head Elliot Renton and Iskandar Malaysia Studios CEO Rashid Karim.

Active Engagements and Feedback from the Industry

Attendees were actively involved in the digital journey, and generous in communicating feedback of the platform, which included the following:

> CESCA Films CEO Francesca Ibanez : “The organisation has been really good, the cost was not high and the online platform worked. Was very easy to use. Easy to make contacts, that for a seller is of utmost importance.”

> Manque producer Carl D-Broughton : “After crippling lockdowns and the global industry coming to a standstill, the online ATF was quite the godsend! The pricing was fair, the matching system worked well and the chat/messaging function made communicating easy. I confess to missing most of the conferences, but there’s the ‘catch-up’ option and, with the system available until the end of February, I’m still able to make new connections. In fact, given how these events usually end when everyone goes home, this ability to reach out for several weeks afterwards may yet prove to be crucial.”

> Gyeonggi Content Agency manager Harry Kyoungwon: “Despite the pandemic, ATF Online+ has successfully linked content and media professionals with an easy and stable platform. With this platform, exhibitors could easily learn how to communicate with buyers and manage their video meetings. Hope to visit real Singapore next year!”

> Inflight VP Shenthil Ranie: “It was a seamless experience to connect with potential companies and especially the My Schedule functionality was very useful.”

> Culture Connect Co. seller Kanji Kazahaya: “ATF is always one of the most important markets to meet key persons. Although it was challenging during a pandemic, the organiser has successfully created a decent online platform.”

> Open Alliance Media Sales director Eugene Venkovsky: “ATF Online+ platform really works better than real meetings. Had so many effective meetings over the past few days.”

> Mediacorp Assistant Commissioning editor Rachel Wong: “I really like the interface. It’s really easy to navigate.”

Commenting on this year’s edition, ATF Yeow Hui Leng, Group Project director said, “We invited the industry to join our discussions on ‘Prelude to 2021’, the theme for ATF Online+ 2020. We are encouraged by the industry’s response, which shows the eagerness to engage towards a positive 2021. It also underscores the trust they placed on ATF to partner them to deliver the right leads and platform to continue doing so.”

Under the umbrella of Singapore Media Festival, the next edition of ATF and ScreenSingapore is slated to return from 1 to 3 December 2021.