Cable TV exec: Cartoons click with Pinoys’ sense of family
Cable TV is here to stay, and will adapt to fit viewers’ needs, according to Phil Nelson, managing director of Turner Southeast Asia.
“What we’ve noticed is that while people are increasingly watching shows on smartphones, viewership numbers for brands like [Turner’s] Warner TV, Cartoon Network and Boomerang remain high in the Philippines,” Nelson told the Inquirer in an e-mail interview prior to his arrival for a press event last Friday. “Linear TV watching still commands the lion’s share of ‘eyeballs’ and engagement, and we’re continuing to see growth.”
The television experience is, and will continue to be, an important part of the business, added the Singapore-based executive, now that entertainment platforms have become varied and more accessible. “Video consumption is increasing and that is transforming the concept of TV—it has become mobile, experiential and personal. To respond, we are adopting a strategy of total consumption, to enable fans to watch our content wherever they might be and harness the latest digital platforms.”
Nelson observed that Filipinos understand and acknowledge the shows airing on the channels, mainly because of the country’s history and cultural background: “Perhaps more so than in any other country, viewers here appreciate great quality animation from the US. They laugh out loud and respond to the same jokes in the same language—as originally intended by show creators and animators.”
And since he visits the Philippines a couple of times a year, he noticed that there is “an enormous sense of family.” “The great thing about cartoons is that they are a true ‘leveler.’ A family can sit around and watch a show like ‘The Powerpuff Girls,’ and enjoy it as one unit.”
Nelson related, “I love coming to the Philippines and feel like I know this country well—you can tell that people of all ages are really invested in our characters and stories.”
Still, the region presents its share of challenges, he added: “Much of our content across [the channels] originates in the US, and we have noticed an increasing shift toward themes of diversity and [inclusion]. So there can be challenges whenever a broadcaster wants to program for a vast region like Asia, with its incredible variety of languages, cultural and religious backgrounds.”
He further explained, “That is why we have dedicated channels for the Philippines—we can usually build a content offering to suit local tastes. Turner also upholds rigorous standards.”
Last year, Cartoon Network’s standout performers included “We Bare Bears,” “Teen Titans Go!” and “Running Man.” Nelson attributed their success “to the depth of the characters and the worlds they live in, as well as the use of intelligent humor.”
He expects a repeat for the aforementioned show about the trio of ursine characters, Nelson shared: “Yes, 2019 will be the coming-of-age for the awesome franchise, ‘We Bare Bears.’ We have already witnessed plushies and accessories fly off the shelves in [stores]. The bears have a way of connecting audiences, no matter what age.”
He also has high hopes for new shows “Craig of the Creek” and “Summer Camp Island.”
“They both debuted really well,” Nelson said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.