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Sony Networks Strikes Deal for New ‘Asia’s Got Talent’ Seasons (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 1/10/2017 Patrick Frater
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Sony Pictures Television (SPT) Networks, Asia has struck a multi-year, multi-series agreement with FremantleMedia International for the rights to hit talent show “Asia’s Got Talent.”

SPTN Asia expects to produce an English-language second season of the show for consumption later this year across much of the Asia-Pacific region. Like, the first run, which was broadcast in 2015, the new season will air principally on Sony’s AXN network, spanning 20 territories.

The long-awaited deal includes multiple rights including linear and digital formats. Geographically, it includes the key territories of India, China, Japan and Korea.

The “Got Talent” franchise is co-produced by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia International.

SPTN Asia has not yet settled on a local production company or judges for the show. But it expects soon to begin several months of talent auditions in cities throughout Asia.

The agreement comes at a time when many networks and entertainment groups are focused on North Asian content, especially from Korea and China. And Sony has operations including channels GEM and ONE, that fit that trend.

But the group says it also sees a demand for premium non-scripted English-language content that is made in Asia for regional audiences. And it has hired former Fremantle and “Asia’s Got Talent” veteran Jef Lim as VP of production to strengthen its in-house production team.

The “Asia’s Got Talent” deal follows closely after “The Amazing Race Asia Season 5,” celebrated its season finale last month. It topped ratings in its timeslot among all regional English-language pay-TV channels collectively in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“AXN was the first channel to premiere a localized, pan-regional format 10 years ago. This year, we’ll be expanding our slate to feature an AXN programming line-up that’s even more locally relevant with a bigger focus on social media engagement,” said Virginia Lim, senior VP and head of content, production and marketing, SPTN Asia.

Some broadcast groups in Asia have not yet taken the concept of social television to the same level as in North America. But Sony expects “Asia’s Got Talent” to pick up from “The Amazing Race Asia, Season 5” and to ensure that its social media strategist will be closely allied with the show’s executive producer. It will produce multiple pieces of short form content and digital series to supplement the linear broadcasts and engage audiences.

“‘Asia’s Got Talent’ season one was one of the most successful talent shows to have aired in the region. It has become the benchmark for talent shows in the pan-regional space. We are thrilled to have secured this multi-year partnership with Sony Pictures Television Networks, Asia and are confident that the new seasons will be tremendously successful,” said Ganesh Rajaram, GM/executive VP, FremantleMedia International, Asia.

AXN has produced other hit shows including five seasons of The Amazing Race Asia; “Cash Cab Asia” and “Cash Cab Philippines;” “The Apprentice Asia;” “Cyril: Rio Magic;” “Cyril’s Family Vacation: Hawaii Edition;” and the “Cyril: Simply Magic.”

In Malaysia, “Asia’s Got Talent” was the highest rated entertainment series on English language channels on Astro in the past two years. In the Philippines, the grand final results episode of “Asia’s Got Talent” was the highest rated pay-TV program in the country since 2008, and commanded a 96% share among 22 English general entertainment channels.

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