Asian Television Awards 2017: Did Netflix Kill the TV Star?

Adorning the red carpet with glitz, glamour, and a legion of fans, stars from all around Asia gathered for Asian Television Awards 2017 – one of the most significant and celebrated regional events in the industry – and this year seemed the biggest yet.

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Apart from performances by Running-Man entertainer Kim Jong Kook, Taiwanese-Korean singer Bii, Indonesian superstar Afgansyah Reza, Vietnamese boyband Air, and Singapore’s Joanna Dong, a total of 42 awards were handed to an impressive 267 nominees. One would be forgiven for thinking that the long-established TV industry is not just surviving, but thriving.

Yet, as we interviewed some of these celebs behind the scenes, we found that their personal habits tell of strange things when it comes to consuming entertainment on screen.

Who would you Netflix and chill with?

  • Afgan’s current favourite: Sense8
  • Air’s current favourite: Walking Dead
  • Allan Wu’s current favourite: House of Cards
  • Joanna Dong’s current favourite: Riverdale
  • Jai Kishan’s current favourite: House of Cards
  • Shigga Shay’s current favourite: Stranger Things
  • Oon Shu An’s current favourite: The Crown, Mad Men

Out of the seven stars, when we asked which they watched more, cable TV or on-demand programmes such as Netflix, the answers were unanimous – they all preferred the latter.

Jai Kishan, who was nominated for Best Comedy Performance by Yes Mdm, says that he prefers Netflix because he does not have to share the TV with other family members. But he still loves TV, not least because he’s in it.

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Indonesian heartthrob Afgansyah thinks that with Netflix, viewers get to dramatically change the way they consume entertainment. There’s no more waiting, and it allows people to discover more shows whenever and however they want.

Or maybe Netflix… no chill?

According to the 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey involving 26,000 people across 26 countries, viewers who preferred watching programmes from their TV set fell from 52% to 23% in just one year. The meteoric rise of video streaming and on-demand programmes seems to be usurping the conventional means of cable consumption and triggering the decline and fall of the TV empire.

Many enjoy the autonomy of choosing how to watch their favourite shows, either at home or on their smartphones, thanks to the proliferation of online entertainment options such as Netflix and Hulu.

For a monthly fee, these services offer the best in Hollywood and international content anywhere, anytime – and users are often spoilt for choice. And then there is the phenomenon of binge watching, where individuals prefer to watch their favourite series back-to-back without having to wait a week. (We’ve all been there – telling ourselves we need to stop as we click ‘next episode’ at 2am.)

It seems as if these conveniences have spirited the media-hungry masses away from their TVs and unto their computers. But have we all cut the TV cord? Is everyone breaking bread with Breaking Bad? Well, not quite.

Traditional TV still dominates local content and remains popular for older families who deem the set-top box as a living room essential. It offers programmes that are more niche, caters to specific demographics, and therefore retains some, if but remote, control.

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The industry is also far from static. It has been adapting and going online with smart TV and consumer-friendly options. There has been a rise in local content available on domains such as Taiwan’s Catchplay, Malaysia’s Iflix, Hong Kong’s Viu, and China’s iQIYI (one of the largest online video platforms in Asia). Netflix, for instance, has partnered Mediacorp and shows like the Little Nyonya (2008) are already available, complementing Mediacorp’s own entertainment platform Toggle.

Just as video killed the radio star, we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far – and Netflix seems here to stay. The winners here are all of us, we the consumers, we who can decide to watch a talking horse one moment, and a soap opera the next. As Jai Kishan says, “I think we’re still watching TV in a different medium. TV is just being modified into a social media standard – we’re still watching TV, but in something entirely new. What we’re giving is the convenience, and we try to make a show for you to watch wherever we can.”

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