New ecosystem aims to help Asia’s online media share video content

If you’re an online publisher and want to receive free, quality news video content from Japan, you’re reading the right article. Asia’s online media market is growing at an alarming rate, and we aim to help publishers cash in on it.

With the numbers of both smartphone users and online media platforms having skyrocketed throughout Asia over the last decade, Asia’s mobile video market is expected to become one of the largest in the world within the next few years.

Asia-Pacific already has more than half of the world’s digital population. In 2017 alone, smartphone users grew from 11.8% to 51% of all mobile phone users in Asia-Pacific, according to eMarketers​, a US-based market research company.

London-based media agency ​Zenith predicts​ that globally, consumers will spend 84 minutes a day watching online video in 2020, up 25% from 2018.

But for online publishers, has publishing video content become any easier? Is the output of video content able to keep​ ​up with the speed of the market growth?

Compared to text, video is tricky. Video materials tend to be more expensive to obtain. Then, editing the video and/or localization further add to the cost and production time.

In reality, unless a media platform has access to costly news agency video feeds, what many content editors might do is to look for relevant video content on social media and embed a YouTube link on their webpage.

Television editors may grab YouTube videos and edit a few seconds of them into their own video edits with due attribution. Realistically speaking, however, this is only happening with breaking news events, and not much with every-day news stories.

So here’s what my team, consisting of former Reuters and AP television producers, is proposing: ​What if we create an ecosystem where online media platforms can exchange their video footage, share their own materials with other online platforms outside of their countries — and even make money?

In other words, what if online media platforms collaborate, as many of them are located in different cities, countries and markets, anyways?

Sharing quality video materials

By allowing video materials along with their associated information (or scripts) to be shared directly between two professional newsrooms, publishers can confidently use content without the need for a time-consuming vetting process.

Quality video content published in one country can be recycled and reused in another in a smooth and legitimate manner, allowing it to reach a wider audience beyond borders.

This, in turn, will create a positive domino effect, leading to financial incentives for publishers to locally produce — and then globally share — quality video content.

Currently, such an experiment is underway using video materials from Japan.

Toshi Maeda, a former Reuters television producer, launched Japan Headlines in 2016. The news community has since gained over 200,000 audiences across Asia.

We’ve started working with Taiwanese broadcaster and online publisher ​Eastern Broadcasting Company (EBC)​, sending them footage of video news reports on lifestyle and technology from ​Japan Headlines​, a Facebook news page run by our Tokyo-based team.

Japan Headlines now provides video footage on Japan’s technology, life-style and other latest trends for overseas publishers.

EBC then turns Japan Headlines’ “clean copy” footage into their own localized content, and publishes it on the multiple websites they run in Taiwan, just like this:

The results have been overwhelmingly positive

For example, one of ​o​ur original video​s​ received just over 4k views, while ​EBC’s version​, using our same footage, received over 28k views on Facebook alone, reaching EBC’s strong audience base in the local Taiwanese market.

Outside of social media, videos can also be used to give further context to text-based media. ​This video on technology on ​ was used by EBC on their ​home news site​ as supplementary material, along with screenshots, for one of their articles.

‘’EBC and Japan Headlines have achieved a milestone in cross-border cooperation. The greatest value of social media is to break boundaries and let the audience experience what is going on in other corners of the world,’’ said Jackal San, director of EBC’s Digital Media Department.
“Japan Headlines’s high-quality content not only lets Taiwanese audiences understand the customs of Japan, but also creates a high engagement rate,” San said.

What’s our next step? We believe that raw video footage from Japan can be useful for many Asian media organizations beyond EBC, especially those that don’t have Japan-based correspondents.

Supplementing lack of journalism resources

Many online media platforms don’t have video contributors based in Tokyo, while foreign correspondents of traditional media have all but deserted Tokyo.

In the past decade, American TV networks have all pulled their correspondents from Tokyo, while CNBC and Australian ABC have shut down their Tokyo bureaus all together.

The size of Tokyo-based staff at major news organizations such as AP and Reuters has also shrunk as their old media clients have suffered a setback from their drop in revenue.

In total, the number of foreign journalists in Japan on journalist visas has dropped by 30 percent in less than 20 years with the region’s geopolitical power shifting from Tokyo to Beijing.

That, however, doesn’t mean the world no longer cares about Japan. Actually, it’s the contrary.

There’s been more than a 30 percent jump in the number of foreign nationals living in Japan since the turn of the century. The number of foreign visitors to Japan is also at a record high, and is expected to only rise with Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics.

The bottom line: there’s no doubt the demand for quality video content is rising but resources are not catching up. This may be resulting in what we come across sometimes as “crappy” content that may be factually wrong, or a mere “translation” or “copy” of unconfirmed SNS content at best.

New revenue streams for online publishers

So how can we enhance the quality of journalism at a time like this and create a self-sufficient ecosystem for online media platforms to share verified, quality content across the region?

Well, we’ll need online publishers to be financially healthy, and for that, we need to create new revenue streams that will add to their existing, typical revenue sources of online ads and/or subscription fees.

Under the new ecosystem we propose, online media platforms would be able to make money in two different ways: one is by providing their own original video content; and the other is by downloading and publishing sponsored video content.

By distributing their content directly to local online publishers, sponsors will see their media spread in targeted cities or countries as “content,” not as an “ad.”

This ecosystem is still in its beta stage, and we’re looking for more publisher partners across Asia to join our global media-journalism experiment.

According to ​the Future of Online News Video​, a report compiled by ​The Reuters Institute​, the​ monetisation of online news video remains the biggest challenge for publishers whether it be on-site or off-site (such as on social media).

To overcome these challenges, publishers are creating sponsored or branded content, but the Reuters Institute report points out that many are struggling to scale this approach given the often bespoke nature of video production.

Through our new content-sharing platform, we’re hoping to change this — by enabling publishers to build a scalable business through direct collaboration with brands and publisher partners, and enhancing the quality of journalism at the same time.

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Toshi Maedais an entrepreneurial journalist based in Tokyo. A former Reuters television news producer, he is founder/CEO of Pacific Bridge Media & Consulting. His team’s Facebook news community Japan Headlineshas more than 200,000 followers across Asia. To join his global, video content-sharing venture or request free clean copies of Japan Headlines video footage, please contact info@pacificbridge.jp