From Newsroom to Digital Media in Asia with Alan Soon

From Newsroom to Digital Media in Asia with Alan Soon
Alan Soon discussed the media business in Asia from the newsroom to digital media and offered his perspectives on whether new media companies such as Vox & the Information will work in Asia.

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

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • 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 (@alansoon, LinkedIn)
    • How did you get started in the media business?  [1:05]
    • From an illustrious career from mainstream to digital media, spanning across Channel News Asia, Bloomberg, CNBC and Yahoo!, what are the interesting career lessons you can share? [2:06]
    • How did you manage to pivot from the printed and broadcast media to digital media? [3:20]
    • Why did you eventually decide to set 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 added with ecommerce transactions.
      • Papi Jiang funded by Zhenfund when in the US, the 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 does the content makers interface with the business owners? [12:40]
    • Will digital paid TV advertising work in Asia with ecommerce transactions as the new model? [14:10]
    • Wirecutter as an example for content site making reviews with affiliate advertising. [14:50]
    • Mogou Street in Wechat China, with fashion articles driving ecommerce transactions.  [15:32]
    • Does 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 localisation of the media for example languages and culture 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 focused 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 investigate 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 targeting niche groups such as TheInformation, Techpinions and Stratechery by Ben Thompson 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 wall 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]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Altizen and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.