Analyse Asia Podcast: From Newsroom To Digital Media With Alan Soon

Alan Soon from the Splice Newsroom and Rockstart Accelerator joined us in a conversation about the media business in Asia. Drawing from his experience in media businesses such as Bloomberg, CNBC, and Yahoo!, Alan offered his perspectives on how the media business has changed across Asia over the past two decades. We discussed business models and how the industry is segmented in Asia, and discussed trends that are emerging in China and India. Last but not least, through our observation of new media businesses such as Vox, Buzzfeed and TheInformation from the US, we analysed whether these new models would work in Asia.

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Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong is a weekly podcast dedicated to the pulse of technology, business & media in Asia. They interview thought leaders and leading industry players and gain their insights to how we perceive and understand the market. Analyse Asia is a content partner of TechNode.

TechNode does not endorse any commentary made in the program.

Notes:

  • Career of Alan Soon, Founder & CEO of The Splice Newsroom, Managing Director of Rockstart Accelerator Singapore and former Yahoo Managing Editor for India + Southeast Asia & Country Manager, Singapore
    • How did you get started in the media business?  [1:05]
    • From an illustrious career in traditional, mainstream media to digital media, spanning across Channel News Asia, Bloomberg, CNBC and Yahoo!, what are some interesting career lessons you can share? [2:06]
    • How did you manage to pivot from printed and broadcast media to digital media? [3:20]
    • Why did you eventually decide to set up the Splice Newsroom? What is the motivation behind the company and what does it do? [5:20]
  • Media in Asia Pacific [6:40]
    • How has the media business changed in Asia Pacific in the past decade, transitioning from mainstream or printed media to digital media with search engine and social media in the past decade? [6:59]
    • How is the media industry segmented in Asia? [8:08]
    • The challenge of talent in the media industry. [8:50]
    • The interesting trends with media in Asia [9:40]
      • TVF Viral in India – satirical videos with India celebrities and recently received VC money.
      • Zhibo – Video livestreaming phenomenon in China with added e-commerce transactions.
      • Papi Jiang funded by Zhenfund. In the U.S., social media celebrities do not get any VC money.
    • What are the business models in media that work in the Asia media scene and how do content makers interface with business owners? [12:40]
    • Will digital paid TV advertising work in Asia with e-commerce transactions as the new model? [14:10]
    • Wirecutter as an example for content site making reviews with affiliate advertising. [14:50]
    • Mogujie’s WeChat account in China, with fashion articles driving e-commerce transactions.  [15:32]
    • Do ad blockers or downstream advertising make the media business less viable in Asia? [16:20]
    • Where are the core drivers for media business in Asia? [17:38]
    • How does the localisation of the media factor into the media business specifically in Southeast Asia and India? [19:26]
    • One of the major challenges for media in Asia is regulation of media by governments. In your experience with Yahoo!, what is your advice on how digital media outlets to navigate the government when it comes to controversial content? [20:21]
    • Very few startup media outlets have been successful in reaching scale in audience distribution, why is that so? [23:38]
    • Does the media business focus on discovery or curation? [24:50]
    • Which form of media are successful in Asia – rich text, audio or video? [26:29]
    • Are the costs of production for media going down given the rise of platforms such as YouTube, Periscope? [27:53]
    • Can investigative journalism work in Asia given the production costs are not going down? [29:10]
  • Emerging Trends & Mapping new media business models to from US to Asia [30:00]
    • Recently, the more successful media brands such as Vox, Buzzfeed and subscription-based media such as TheInformation, Techpinions and Stratechery by Ben Thompson, which target niche audiences, are becoming popular. Can these concepts be mapped to the Asia market? [30:13]
    • Are there challenges in the business models of these media? For example, Asian consumers prefer not to pay for content. [35:44]
    • With the rise of walled gardens such as Facebook and Medium and rise of ad blockers rendering advertising insignificant as a revenue stream, how does media outlets navigate these constraints to be successful? [37:00]
  • What’s next?
    • Alan has stared his new gig with Rockstart Accelerator soon. What is his role for the accelerator? [40:55]