Filmart: Streamer Viu Targets Increased Social Media Engagement With Travel Challenge Show ‘No Sleep No FOMO’

'No Sleep No FOMO’ Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Viu

The program invites viewers to help celebrities as they race to complete a range of around-the-clock challenges in major cities within 60 hours and without rest.

Global OTT video service Viu is launching an Asian version of the reality travel challenge show No Sleep No FOMO as part of its voluminous original productions slate to further its content’s level of social media engagement.

Viu announced a slate of 70 titles of over 900 episodes for 2018 and the company promised that the output this year will be even bigger.

The new series, adapted from a format from The Story Lab, sees celebrities and social media personalities racing to complete a range of around-the-clock challenges in major cities within 60 hours and without rest. Participants include South Korean singer and TV variety show Running Man member Kim Jong Kook, Singaporean singer-actor Benjamin Kheng, Filipino blogger Laureen Uy and American-Thai actress Taya Rogers.

Launched in 2015 by Hong Kong-headquartered global telecom group PCCW, Viu is now available in 17 markets globally, with South Africa joining since the end of February. No Sleep No FOMO will be available to viewers across seven of these markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

With over 30 million monthly active users across Asia, the Middle East, and South Africa, Viu will leverage the social media influence of the No Sleep No FOMO cast, which amounts to 12 million followers, to expand its reach and raise users’ degree of participation. “Many of our subscribers are digital natives,” says Janice Lee, managing director of Viu’s parent company PCCW Media Group. “Among the 3.9 billion Internet users around the world, 80 percent of them are actively engaged in social media, and the percentage is even higher for digital natives. If this is already a part of their lifestyle, we want to try an IP where we can integrate a high level of social media engagement as the core proposition of the product. The concept of No Sleep No FOMO is in itself very close to the lifestyle of the digital natives, so we’ve added a few new elements to the show. We’ve chosen artists with strong social media following in our cast, so their fan base can reach out to us and we can reach out to them.”

The content and service provider also debuted viewer participation initiative “Viu Engage” in the program, where the celebrities can ask fans for advice when completing the task. “So we are turning the fans into co-creators of segments of content, which is something we’ve built in during the shoot," Lee adds. "And it also helps with promotion, as the fans have been aware of the program since the production stage, so they will see their own participation in the end product.”

In 2018, Viu collaborated with HBO Asia on the Asian adaptation of Scandinavian crime thriller series The Bridge, and partnered with Phantom Films in India on the theatrical film High Jack. “We always say we’re not too precious about our content," Lee says. "At this stage what we care about is our Viu Originals reaching the maximum number of audience. We will reserve a very early window for showing on Viu, but we’re very open to partnerships, as we feel today’s users have a very fragmented viewing habit and they don’t just spend time on one screen to watch content. As 30 percent of Viu Originals viewers are new to the Viu service, we can see that Viu Originals have brought new eyeballs to Viu. But for the other 70 percent, they are existing Viu users, so besides watching Korean dramas, our original productions have deepened our connection and relationship."

Viu takes into account its presence in diverse markets geographically and culturally when creating its original productions. “We try to be sensitive and respectful to local cultures and local preferences,” Lee said. “At the same time, we hope to increase the level of engagement with our content, so our proposition is to look for content popular across the region, such as Korean dramas but with a high degree of localization, providing subtitles for respective regions within four hours of a program’s debut. On top of that, our overarching strategy is to go local. We want to be locally relevant. So in addition to Korean dramas, which are popular across Asia, we have also been producing local content in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.”

Having built its brand on Korean dramas, Viu uses what it’s learned from their cross-regional popularity when formulating its original production strategy. “As we’ve seen with Korean dramas, language is not necessarily a barrier," Lee says. "Korean speakers outside of Korea are not that numerous. But we can see that the story translates. We provide subtitles, as users want to access the content as quickly as possible, and they enjoy watching the authenticity of the programs and listening to the acting of the voices, so we find that subtitles are enough. But the content has to be appealing. The most important thing is whether or not the content is attractive enough. Then we think about the languaging and the localization. Because we’ve demonstrated that as long as it’s good content, it crosses borders."