NEW YORK: Sonia Fleck, the CEO of Bomanbridge Media, tells TV Real about some of the changes under way in Asia’s factual business.
Singapore-based distributor Bomanbridge Media has built up a library of some 5,000 hours of programming from across the globe that it has been selling to broadcasters and platforms across Asia. While the company, led by CEO Sonia Fleck, deals in a range of genres, factual has emerged as one of Bomanbridge’s strong suits. Last week the firm announced a deal for more than 110 hours with Chinese millennial-focused platform Bilibili, and it arrived at MIPCOM with deals for 300 factual hours with platforms in China, South Korea and Brunei.
TV REAL: What are the trends you’re seeing in your factual business?
FLECK: Factual is clearly making an exciting comeback this year. In the past, a lot of the doc features and award-winning factual titles, while getting pickups and some key deals done, may not have been as commercially viable. The SVOD services are really starting to look for these sorts of strong storytelling feature docs. That’s different from last year, when most channel slots were more straight-up 50-minute-episode series or one-offs. Bomanbridge has bought six hours of blue-chip documentaries from Calt Production. These are all produced by the iconic Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a man that has looked down on perhaps more of the Earth’s surface than anyone in history. Titles include Mediterranean, Algeria From Above, Morocco From Above and interestingly, Bangladesh. These docs are all in his particular style, using high-end technology, with skillfully crafted and yes, healthy production budgets. It is exciting to be at the forefront of absolutely fantastic 4K technology and in really intriguing locations which are socially relevant. With environmental and economic issues going on, there has been interest in the Middle East as well as the South Asian market and I wanted to give a really positive spin on all of this. So these shows do have some Middle Eastern/North African culture, but of course capture amazing imagery. There are theatrical as well as SVOD conversations, and of course, all of our main television deals currently under way. To be honest, we are quite keen to see how the SVOD deals will play out. These shows carry that kind of audience following.
The other award-winning programs we’ve picked up are from Nexo Digital and their partners Sky 3D, Sky Arte HD and Magnitudo. This is really high-end production out of Italy. We picked up quite a few of their shows. Everything is in 4K and we also have companion pieces in VR. We have a 2×45/1×90 on Leonardo da Vinci, accessing visuals of some of his iconic works. We also have Florence and the Uffizi Gallery, which contains Botticelli and other masters showing really iconic works from the Italian masters. There are big-budget reenactments and great storytelling as well as the works of art themselves. And lastly, we have St. Peter’s and the Papal Basilicas of Rome. Then we thought, won’t it be fun if the public could actually walk inside the Sistine Chapel? So we are going to be selling some VR on that.
So those are some of the beautiful, high-end, experience pieces that we are announcing for ATF. On the back of MIPCOM, we also bought a show presented by former Miss Britain Amy Kitchingman called On the Go, which is a sassy travel series [that goes all] over the Middle East. Airline advertisers will be keen on this, I’m sure! We bought a ton of wildlife. It was a good market.
TV REAL: What have been the biggest shifts in your AsiaPac factual-distribution business over the last year?
FLECK: We’re getting a lot more requests for the blue-chip content. These award-winning programs, while they are a lot more expensive to acquire, are really in the limelight at the moment. There is a strong appetite for high caliber, big-budget docs, and that’s great as there was a moment when wildlife in particular was becoming scarce. With the way we’ve started acquiring over the last six months, we’ve been curating our content carefully. Additionally, Asia is acquiring more and more on subjects that are coming from or clearly relevant for Asia. Logical! We’re expertly tailoring a portion of our catalog for this region, hitting the sweet spot in terms of what the broadcasters want in the local genre.