WarnerMedia Reveals Aggressive Plans for Original Content in Asia

Giorgio Stock - H 2019
Courtesy of Turner

Speaking at Singapore's Asia TV Forum & Market, the company's Asia head Giorgio Stock said WarnerMedia plans to invest in film and TV content at the country level and exploit regional IP, such as China's popular emoji rabbit Tuzki.

WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks’ strategy for Asia in 2020 will be to cast its net wide in terms of local content and collaborations as the company looks to secure its share of the region’s ever-expanding market.

“Asia has passionate audiences that expect stories that are unpredictable,” Giorgio Stock, the company’s freshly minted Asia president of distribution and ad sales, said Tuesday at the Asia TV Forum & Market in Singapore.

Stock revealed that there had been seven Asian productions already greenlit for 2020, with more pending approval.

“We have a whole range of shows we are very excited about,” said the exec. “We are very ambitious about our opportunity to produce original content. It is what the audience increasing expects from us. We are doing the same with the kids side of our business and have commissioned five animated series for next year. People want to see characters and stories that resonate with their daily lives.”

To that end, the company will be tapping into traditional-style film productions in 2020, including the star-studded Malaysian co-produced feature The Garden of Evening Mists and original series such as the Singapore-produced collection of domestic dramas Invisible Stories, two episodes of which screened last week at the city’s international film festival.

WarnerMedia will also be further exploring the possibilities presented by new content streams though its ownership of the Tuzki IP. China’s most famous emoji rabbit is being leveraged into a comedy-drama series that will mix live-action and CGI, as well as a feature film and a series of theme parks.

“Franchises are important and they will be every more important for a company like ours,” said Stock. “I expect we will see more and better of these being offered to Asian audiences. There are a few created in this region and a few we are seeing resonate — Tuzki is one of them.”

Stock was installed as WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks' president of distribution and advertising sales, Europe, Middle East and Africa and the Asia Pacific region in August, with growth across APAC a primary focus.

In terms of streaming alone, the market across the region — including China — is expected to be worth $50 billion by 2024, according to industry watchers Media Partners Asia.

WarnerMedia recently formed its Southeast Asia leadership team, to be based out of its regional office in Singapore and covering a wealth of brands that include all HBO channels, Warner TV, Oh!K, CNN International, Cartoon Network and Boomerang, among others.

“The dynamics of this market place are quite amazing,” said Stock. “What I have seen is enterprise and youth, and inspiration. It’s presenting an amazing opportunity for us to produce trend-setting entertainment. Asian audiences have come to expect the unexpected.”