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Business

Fox aims to succeed in crowded Asian streaming market

US media giant bolsters Chinese-language shows as it launches service in Taiwan

Fox executive Zubin Gandevia says original contents will help boost Fox's streaming service   © Debby Wu

TAIPEI -- Original content will give Fox an edge as a streaming service provider in Asia, a company executive said Tuesday, as the U.S. media powerhouse rolls out digital offerings in the region after international rivals such as Netflix and Amazon and regional competitors have already established themselves in the crowded market.

"We make a lot of content ourselves," Zubin Gandevia, president of Asia Pacific and the Middle East at Fox Networks Group, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "We are the biggest buyer of content in the English [language] market. We have the scale ... it's all about the content." 

Fox Networks Group, the TV and cable arm of Nasdaq-listed 21st Century Fox, produces and distributes programs around the globe. Gandevia was in Taiwan to launch Fox+, the company's streaming platform, in partnership with leading Taiwanese telecommunications operator Chunghwa Telecom.

According to Chunghwa Telecom Chairman David Cheng, his company enjoys an exclusive deal with Fox+ for six months, after which the video streamer is free to work with

Fox launches streaming service in Taiwan together with Chunghwa Telecom. (Photo by Jason Tan)

other local partners such as cable TV operators or rival telecoms in Taiwan.

Gandevia said Fox+ subscribers will be able to view the network's shows in real time as the latest episode is broadcast in the U.S., and many of the Chinese-language programs on Fox cable channels will be made available on the digital platform.

"We are increasing our Chinese [language] productions by investing more and more," Gandevia said. "We are trying to bring Hollywood quality productions to Asia."

The Fox executive said upcoming Chinese language programs include "Trading Floor," a five-episode TV series produced by prominent Hong Kong entertainer Andy Lau.

Gandevia dismissed concerns about the possibility of digital streaming eating into the company's existing revenue, adding that Fox is only concerned with delivering the best content to consumers "in a way they want."

"We are in the business of delivering great stories," he said. "For us, what matters is that fans love our stories, and we would find the best way to tell stories in the best possible way."

Gandevia did not disclose the specific number of Fox+ subscribers in Asia and also declined to predict when the new business will break even. But he said the digital offering will be a long-term investment project.

In recent years, 21st Century Fox has collaborated with comic powerhouse Marvel to produce box-office hits such as the "X-Men" series, and delivered popular TV dramas such as "The Walking Dead." It also boasts broadcast rights to Formula One car racing, tennis grand-slam tournaments and Major League Baseball.

Yet with the U.S. movie box offices taking a hit in recent quarters partly due to the rise of streaming services, it is Fox News and other cable offerings that are propping up the company's earnings.

Fox+, which is also available in Latin America and Europe, first became available in Asia earlier this year when it was introduced in the Philippines and then Singapore. Taiwan represents its third Asian market, but Gandevia said Fox does not have any announcement at this time regarding further launches in Asia this year.

But both Netflix and Amazon launched streaming services in Asia earlier than Fox, and are available in more countries, while regional rivals such as China's iQiYi also have a strong presence in this competitive market.

Nikkei contributing writer Jason Tan in Taipei also contributed to this report

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