As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world, affecting lives and economies everywhere, members of the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) have stepped up to help where they can.
The video industry plays a critical role in the health and vibrancy of Asian economies, from employing large and skilled workforces, investing in local talent and productions, to entertaining and informing the citizens of our countries during these difficult times. And there is no time more important than now for the industry to work together to further support these countries as its people suffer the brunt of what the pandemic is bringing in its wake.
Many initiatives across Asia Pacific have taken place in the past few months amongst AVIA’s members, from free access to its many channels and streaming platforms, to fundraising campaigns and the supply of much needed medical equipment to frontline workers.
In Hong Kong, in response to the shortage of anti-epidemic supplies, TVB launched a coronavirus donation campaign which resulted in the donation of more than 1 million pieces of epidemic prevention supplies, including masks and sanitisers. With the help of TVB artistes, these supplies were distributed to the needy via charitable organisations, hospitals and other non-profit organisations.
With film and TV productions shutting down since March, Netflix has committed to spending $150 million to help the industry through the crisis. This includes a $100 million fund to assist workers in the TV and film industry hurt by the crisis and a $30 million donation to third parties and non-profits to assist crew and cast in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand, where Netflix has a big production presence.
In Malaysia, with cinemas closed, Astro worked with local film producers to premiere their latest releases direct to homes on Astro First, bypassing theatrical releases. Astro has also collaborated with the government to help students continue their studies through Astro’s Tutor TV channels, benefitting all students especially those without internet access. They also allocated over 3,000 hours of airtime across Astro channels to disseminate important updates and discredit false news via public service announcements.
In Singapore, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are working to accelerate local content initiatives as part of the IMDA’s Capabilities Partnership Program. Despite the many challenges facing content production now, each are committing to create original IP under this program.
Meanwhile, The Walt Disney Company collaborated with the Singapore Government to bring the Hotstar streaming service to migrant workers during this period. Workers can live stream more than 85,000 hours of blockbuster movies, cricket matches, Star India TV shows and live news on their mobile phones. In India, Star and Disney+ Hotstar worked with Project Mumbai to donate over 200,000 PPE kits to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), over 1 million meals to homeward bound citizens leaving from Mumbai, and 200,000 cotton face masks for the Mumbai police force.
In the Philippines, Globe introduced a number of initiatives to support its employees, customers and other stakeholders specifically medical institutions, frontliners and local communities. Foremost was to ensure that the company’s workforce was safe and empowered. It also provided P270 million in financial aid for its vendor partners and retail store staff to ensure that no one is left behind. In partnership with the shareholders, Globe employees raised over P27.5 million to assist healthcare workers in 50 hospitals and to help build COVID-19 quarantine facilities. Globe also provided 1,000 preloaded mobile phones to support the connectivity needs of the police, military, naval forces and select hospitals. Rallying its customers to do safely donate their earned Globe Rewards points for a cause, Globe was able to raise P36M for frontliners in 11 COVID-19 public treatment centres.
“While the impact to our business has been quite significant, our agile mindset allowed us to pivot easily using various digital platforms from payments to back end operations so we can support our employees and customers immediately. We remain steadfast in our commitment to stand with our customers and stakeholders at this difficult time as we come up with new programmes and digital solutions to help the country recover from the impact of this pandemic,” said Ernest Cu, Globe President and CEO.
For Discovery Networks, it was important to lend support to the next generation, focusing efforts on children and education. In Taiwan, Discovery co-operated with the Education Department of the New Taipei City Government, to provide a free e-learning quiz-based platform, Animal Kentei, for all elementary school students. School-aged children in Japan also received free access to the Dplay streaming service during the national school closures. Under a local partnership agreement with Save the Children, Discovery Japan is also assisting with emergency support for after-school childcare during the COVID-19 crisis.
“As we look around the video industry in Asia, what is clear to me is that there is a huge amount of compassion and a real desire to try and help others. Things are not easy for our members, but we know that we have a duty to viewers and populations for whom our brands provide comfort, solace and entertainment. We are working as one to try and help us all get through these difficult times.” Louis Boswell, CEO, AVIA.
The AVIA Virtual OTT Summit will be held online June 29 to July 3.