Digital media is in the midst of a heyday, some may argue. Not only are online publishers ramping up their game across the board, it seems as if new media organizations are popping up on news feeds every other day. Established brands and startups alike are clamoring to become skilled content producers, tapping into social media marketing and trying their hand at video production. With the rise and reign of new, digital formats, media and entertainment companies are constantly seeking the next big regional hubs for content.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore has emerged as a prime candidate for such a hub. With a slew of media companies setting up shop, Singaporean names emerging in the film and television industries, and high-profile events and conferences on the rise, the Lion City is quickly emerging as a global force in the increasingly high-stakes game of content creation.
Below, we've outlined a few of the ways Singapore is making waves in digital media and the entertainment industry, and why it could be poised for success.
1. It's an ideal blend of cultural crossroads
Both geographically and from a perspective of global influence, Singapore presents a huge opportunity for marketers, businesses and media brands seeking to capitalize on a wide range of content — everything from broadcast to film to gaming. Due to an advantageous geographical location at the heart of the Southeast Asia's sea lanes, the city-state has long been regarded as one of the gateways and liaisons between Eastern and Western cultures, with fluency in four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. It is a true melting pot.
This eclectic, multicultural landscape sets Singapore up as a incubator for ideas, creativity and a globally focused mindset that brands and entertainment professionals covet. And with a growing population of digital natives — experts predict that between 2010 and 2020, 194 million new Internet users will emerge within the ASEAN region — it's also a highly desirable market for tech-focused companies and online media.
Technology efforts also help create a ripe market for content creators focused on easily disseminated digital content. Singapore recently made a push for technological developments and startup incubation, aiming to rival some of the world's most innovation-focused nations. Venture capital firms are also more closely eyeing the Southeast Asia and Singapore markets. And established startups that have seen success around the globe, such as Uber and Airbnb, are setting sights on Singapore and have expanded there internationally.
2. High-profile media and entertainment companies are establishing a presence
Media companies are taking notice, seeking to capitalize on the ASEAN market. They're smart to turn to Singapore: In 2012, the media sector generated S$31.4 billion in operating receipts.
The media and entertainment industries have welcomed the likes of several major players to the region in recent years, including big names like Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, Discovery, Double Negative, Ubisoft and Lucasfilm. To date, more than 7,000 media companies have a foothold in Singapore in the form of a home base or satellite offices.
As these companies begin to establish a stronger presence within Singapore, the city-state further establishes itself as a market that's appealing to content creators not only in the film or television industries, but also in fields such as 3D animation, cutting-edge video games, trans-media storytelling and new media initiatives.
3. Singapore is hosting conferences and events that unite media influencers from around the globe.
As Singaporean content grows in popularity and media companies become more prominent throughout the region, impactful events and conferences taking place in Singapore present fruitful meeting grounds for industry professionals.
One of the largest and most successful events celebrating content creation in the region is the Singapore Media Festival. 2014, the event's inaugural year, established the festival as a success; it plays host to four prominent film and television events. Interested parties and professionals from around the globe gather for screenings, speakers, conferences, awards ceremonies and more, as they swap ideas and discuss the future of their respective industries in ASEAN markets.
Additionally, the event functions as a podium for major industry announcements: Last year, local Singapore media players announced a key deal with China, in the form of a partnership and S$130 million fund for investments in China’s entertainment industry.
The current participating events in the Singapore Media Festival include the Asia TV Forum & Marketplace, ScreenSingapore, the 26th Singapore International Film Festival and the Asian Television Awards. Collectively, the events draw in millions of dollars in sales deals and thousands of attendees from countries around the globe. It's a chance for the biggest players in media and entertainment to rub shoulders and celebrate accomplishments of both Asian and global media companies.
This year's event will occur from Nov. 26-Dec. 6, and will feature a new conference, Digital Matters, the goal of which is to unlock new insights on digital creativity, social distribution and the competitive digital media market.
Other upcoming and influential events occurring in the digital media/content space in Singapore include: Festival of Media Asia Pacific, a two-day conference in March bringing together some of the media's most notable names; ComunicAsia and BroadcastAsia in June, events that focus on communications, entertainment, information technology and digital multimedia; and Spikes Asia, a September event that aims to mold up-and-coming young talent in a "festival of creativity" celebrating select creative industries and innovative work.
4. Singaporean-produced content is drawing a global audience.
In the past few years, the film, tech and television industries have seen Singaporean names make a splash, from nominations at the Cannes Film Festival to original content produced by media giants like HBO. The original detective series Serangoon Road, for example, produced by HBO Asia in collaboration with Singapore-based Infinite Studios and Australia's ABC TV, won awards in Australia and garnered a loyal fan base across borders. The show is set in 1960s Singapore and was filmed on location.
Two years ago, Singaporean director/producer Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo won the prestigious Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for the best first feature film. Eric Khoo, another Singaporean filmmaker, has also received accolades for multiple works at the famed film festival.
From large-scale to locally concentrated efforts, it's clear that Singapore is increasingly interested in innovation. Small, local production companies are seeing success in new and exciting fields: Singapore-based Tiny Island Productions, for example, has received recognition both overseas and domestically for its work with 3D animation. Incubators, such as Singapore Game Box, a resource center for small companies developing original game content, are also encouraging innovation in digital media throughout the region.
As Singapore continues to establish itself as both a hub for content creators and digital media, there are budding growth opportunities across a wide spectrum of mediums and industries.