Over the past decade, Southeast Asia has made great leaps and bounds in the expansion of its media and digital content sector. With Asia’s rising affluence and increased demand for technology, the region is not only a low-cost production centre for the media industry, but also an amalgamation of 600 million consumers with rising spending power. Between 2010 and 2020, it is expected that there will be 194 million new internet users within the ASEAN region1. Recent government deregulation has also triggered growth opportunities in the region for the creation of Southeast Asia-specific content, especially in online media.
Ranked as Asia’s most network-ready country2, Singapore is an ideal location for international media companies to establish cutting-edge digital media services. In the past few years, the interactive and digital media industry in Singapore has grown by more than 1.5 times since 2008 to exceed S$2 billion3 in revenue today.
In 2013, Singapore’s media and broadcasting sector also chalked up several historic firsts. In May, first-time feature film director Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo won the prestigious Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for the best first feature film, and Jack Neo’s feature film “Ah Boys to Men 2" became the highest local box office earner of all time at S$8 million. The ten-part detective series Serangoon Road went on to win the Digital and Film Award at the Australian Art in Asia Awards.
With the best intellectual property protection in Asia4 and a large, multilingual talent pool in both traditional and new media, Singapore has presented itself as a top-notch base for creating and deploying new content. Regional enterprises from rapidly expanding industries in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines leverage this, convening in Singapore to form partnerships and procure new technologies. Over the years, Singapore has become no stranger to an influx of media exhibitions, conferences and conventions that reinforce its role as a top platform for content creation. The constant flow of industry transactions and innovations is also spurred by interactive digital media start-up incubators such as Crystal Horse Investment, Expara IDM Ventures, QuestAccelerator and Ruvento Ventures.
Singapore has attracted leading players like FIC, BBC World, CNBC Asia, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Television, Discovery Asia and Ubisoft to set up offices here5, most of which are clustered around Fusionopolis and Mediapolis at One North. These companies cover genres from digital animation to gaming to documentaries. Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, the company’s first facility outside of the US, is centred on animation and game development, as well as visual effects productions for Hollywood films6.
Singapore is the centre of content creation in the region, and its robust digital infrastructure, high technological penetration and multi-cultural society makes it an excellent test bed of choice for soft product launches.
Under the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015, there will be a surge in collaborations among Southeast Asian nations in the development of both digital infrastructure and content. More multi-national corporations (MNCs) can capitalise upon this to form local and regional partnerships in the creation of Asia-specific content.
Regional landmark events such as BroadcastAsia, CommunicAsia, Asia TV Forum & Marketplace and ScreenSingapore anchor Singapore's position as the media and digital content marketplace. The industry is also moving towards the development of niche segments such as game development, transmedia applications and intellectual property management.