Tiger Gate to expand TV, film production

Kix, Thrill channels to add reality, feature films

HONG KONG – Asian television operator and content supplier Tiger Gate Entertainment is set to produce original programming for its newly launched channels, Kix and Thrill, develop film content for television and theatrical release, and expand its reach across Asia, including through online and mobile into China, Tiger Gate CEO William Pfeiffer told The Hollywood Reporter.

Tiger Gate, the joint venture of U.S. studio Lionsgate and private investment firm Saban Capital Group in partnership with television veteran William Pfeiffer and Paul Presburger launched the action-genre channel Kix and horror/thriller channel Thrill through pay-TV platforms now-TV in Hong Kong and Starhub in Singapore in late April. Thrill has been available in Indonesia since last August.

The company now focuses on the action and thriller/suspense/horror genres because of their worldwide popularity. “Action is the most popular genre around the world; eight to nine out of 10 top hits are generally action films. It’s what Asia does best; it’s what’s known about Asian content outside of Asia; it’s what’s liked best within Asia,” said Pfeiffer. Similarly, the horror/suspense/thriller genre proved the driving force of the film markets in Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Korea. 

“We have the largest and most popular genre in Kix with action; and the fastest-growing and most cutting-edge genre in Thrill with horror/suspense/thriller. Nobody had launched a channel that’s focusing on the Asian action genre, or the Asian horror/suspense/thriller genre, so that was clearly an opportunity,” said Pfeiffer.

On targeting the action genre with Kix, which shows Asian content for two-thirds of its programming, and Thrill offering Asian and Hollywood content in equal measure, he said "We’re the first in, which gives us an advantage – it gives us a pick of the best of programming and to associate our brand with those genres.”

“What we’re not doing is take a bunch of content in our library, on a shelf that we own. We’re out there aggregating what the market really wants to watch, what’s the best for the viewers and the individual markets, as opposed to taking whatever we may have to sell, and make a new channel out of it and putting that in the marketplace that’s more library-driven as opposed to the viewers. We’re taking a viewer-based approach and schedule the content in a way that’s most convenient for them to see it,” said Pfeiffer.

The company is developing and producing reality programming for Kix, such as an action reality competition show that is scheduled to complete in the fourth quarter of 2010, and other more “whimsical” lighthearted physical competition shows.

Apart from television content, Tiger Gate is developing low to medium-budget, action and horror/suspense films for television and theatrical release, with an Asia-based studio targeting the broader Asian market.

“The new films will be aimed broadly across Asia, to appeal to the larger markets in Asia.  Most of the films we’re developing right now are either to be produced in China, Japan or Korea,” said Pfeiffer.

“Producing our own films is a good way to secure good content for our channels, and the production of those films also give us other auxiliary content that we can play on the channels – the making-of, the behind-the-scenes, interviews with the stars and the directors and so on," he said.

Tiger Gate is aiming to expand its channels’ reach to Southeast Asia, India, and into North Asia, China and the Middle East, with a target of launching in four or five markets by the end of the year. “China is a very important part of the plan, it’s a long-term market. There are certainly restrictions for the distribution of foreign-owned channels, but there’s a market there, there’s access and there’s increasing access through new media distribution alternatives – you can produce and distribute content there as branded blocks and so on – so we’re working on a number of different approaches and talking with a number of different partners,” Pfeiffer said. 

“We’re not just 24/7 linear channels. As time goes on, these brands will be expanded into new media spaces, whether they’d be mobile or online, interactive spaces.  Going after the Internet users, particularly the broadband users, would be a very good way to access the market there,” he said.