KRU Studios leap forward in media content
KRU studios poised to reach out to the world with TV-on-demand
NORMAN Halim of KRU Studios tells SITI SYAMEEN MD KHALILI about the company´s plans to offer an all-new TV viewing experience.
NORMAN Halim wears a contented look as he watches his staff doing their daily routine inside the new studio in Cyberjaya.
"The future of TV viewing is interactivity and for us, the future starts here, in this very studio," says the president and chief executive officer of KRU Studios.
Norman was talking about the company´s latest venture, KRUTV, a new channel that offers online content.
KRUTV is designed to be a permanent fixture in the online high definition (HD) video portal, TonTon.com.my, launched recently by Alt Media Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Media Prima Berhad.
Norman says: "How people consume media right now and in the future will change tremendously. Passive involvement like watching television that is preprogrammed will be a thing of the past in the next five to 10 years. What we´re doing is positioning ourselves in terms of providing content and giving seamless access through TonTon."
On-demand TV viewing
Norman firmly believes Malaysians, especially the younger generation are ready for a more interactive experience, aided by the proliferation of broadband and high-speed access.
"I think Malaysians are ready for web TV, or even Internet protocol TV (IPTV) and mobile TV. In this age of new media, where people have access to Facebook, Twitter and other interactive stuff, they access content every day based on what they want to see, what they want to read. The passive, non-interactive way of getting content is going to fade."
"With IPTV, you will see that happening. The same goes for TonTon. I believe that on the Web, it will continue to improve. I think TonTon has got the business model right, because people are used to getting content for free, and we just need to continue giving it to them for free. We just need to get the eyeballs and ensure that the advertisers get their benefits. The back-end model of Tonton provides the opportunity for advertisers to know who they are reaching out to. Unlike other traditional media which is based on surveys, this platform gives actual data."
Norman says KRU Studios will continue to invest in providing content over TonTon. "It is a very intelligent platform. It is a unique platform, we don´t have anything else similar to it. The content distribution is wider, we´re not just talking about the Malaysian market, we´re reaching out to the world."
Established content producer
According to Norman, the collaboration with TonTon.com is compatible with KRU Studios´ long-term goals, which is to produce world-class content.
"We don´t invest in platforms. We´d rather invest and focus on something that we are good at, which is content production," he says. "We aspire to position ourselves as an international player in the long run. We believe that we are getting there, especially through our films like Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, which has already been sold to 50 countries. The film will be available in the US market in November this year. We´ve also announced our co-production venture for a film called Ribbit, which is a 3-D animation film about a frog with an identity crisis.
"At the same time, we are not forgetting the local audience. We already have programmes in Bahasa Melayu, and currently working on a number of English offerings. We´re also exploring on producing content in other languages, such as Mandarin or Cantonese."
Variety of video content
The best part about all this is that Internet-savvy viewers will eventually be able to enjoy all these shows at KRU´s channel on TonTon. As Norman further explains, there will be three types of content that will be made available through the channel.
"One is feature films, and it can be international or made for local films, and it can be live-action or animation.
"The other is TV series, which can be in the form of episodic or stand-alone programmes. We have roughly about 150 hours of programming that is right now in the slate for production till June 2011," says Norman, adding that the upcoming content takes about RM12 to RM15 million to produce.
Feature films already slotted as KRUTV´s initial offerings include previous blockbusters Cicakman, Cicakman 2: Planet Hitam and Duyung. Other feature films will eventually be available, but Norman says the wait can take as long as 18 months as there is a need to protect the value of the films´ theatrical release-to-terrestrial TV airing cycle as well as the DVD market.
For TV-series, it will be post-terrestrial, meaning it will be available on TonTon as early as a day after it has been shown on terrestrial TV, says Norman. In terms of TV series, some of the content that is in KRU´s content library includes previously aired shows such as Bio-Nik, Arjuna and the Hotel Mania series.
"We´re also planning to produce more chick flicks for the female audience and action adventures for the male.
Music in KRU´s channel
Another type of content to be featured in KRUTV will be musical in nature.
Norman says: "This is a natural progression, as our company started as a music entity and we´re still considered as one of the top record labels in Malaysia. I believe putting musical content either in the form of music video, audio files, concerts, in-person involving celebrities and other content that are musical in nature would be part of our programming in TonTon."
He adds that KRU Studios music offerings will be almost live, and aligned with radio and TV release. "We might also want to preview certain music programmes on TonTon first, meaning the content will not be available elsewhere, only on TonTon. "
KRU Studios is also venturing on producing content in stereoscopic in 3-D. According to Norman, KRU Studios are already studying various aspects of 3-D production including equipment and devices, and equipping staff with the techniques of producing 3D content.
"We´re already experimenting with 3-D production and we plan to come out with a music video in 3-D some time in November this year," he reveals.
Learning viewers´ behaviour
Keeping in mind that TonTon offers free content and practices an advertisement-based business module, Norman says KRU Studios will test the waters with 10 hours worth of programming first, despite having over 100 hours of programming in its library. He adds that, as a content developer, there is a need for KRU Studios to allocate time to learn more about the new portal and its viewers´ habits.
"We´ve always produced content especially feature films in HD, and for terrestrial broadcast, we´d just downgrade it to PAL. So it´s not a difficult task for us to produce content for TonTon. The only issue that we´ll probably have is understanding what kind of content that TonTon viewers like, especially for viewing on computer screen.
"We will need to see their reaction. Maybe we should design more short-forms or content which is not long in duration, and even if we do for long-form series, how do we encourage advertisers to come in and position their brands, embedded in the content? This will take time. So we have decided to just start our operation first, study, learn and evolve based on that."
by Siti Syameen Md Khalili
Published Date : 20 September 2010
Source : New Straits Times