For many of us, turning on a streaming service means choosing a Western TV series or Korean drama to binge on. However, the next time you reach for the remote, consider watching a drama made in a neighbouring country – Thailand.
Channel 3, consistently ranked as one of Thailand’s top 2 TV channels, offers entertainment and news to its Thai and increasingly global audience, including Singapore.
Some examples of Thai TV shows available on Mewatch, Mediacorp’s digital video service, are Love Destiny, My Lovely Bodyguard and The Gifted Graduation. A popular show called To The Moon and Back is also streaming on Viu.
Last month, Mediacorp signed a content acquisition deal with BEC World Public Company Limited, the company that owns Channel 3, to bring more than 600 hours’ worth of Thai dramas to audiences here in Singapore.
Mr Charkrit Direkwattanachai, 55, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications at BEC World, offered a glimpse into the TV station’s operations and plans to 45 visiting students from RP’s Diploma in Mass Communication last week.
BEC World is a company with 53 years of experience in content production and broadcasting, but the advent of technology has transformed viewing habits. As with the situation in Singapore, many youths in Thailand rarely watch shows on traditional television.
Shifting to pocket-sized content viewing
To remain relevant and appeal to young audiences, the channel is customising content to align with their changing preferences and viewing habits.
Mr Charkrit shared that youths prefer watching TV shows on smaller screens.
“We created 3 Plus (application) as our platform to attract them (youths) as we learned from our research and talking to our audience that they still like to watch content, just not on the TV platform.”
With this insight, Channel 3 developed a mobile application that enables users to watch their TV shows while on the go.
From predictable to unpredictable
Local youths of Thailand also have a strong preference for shows with intriguing plots.
According to Mr Charkrit, Channel 3 used to produce shows adapted from novels and stories that had been remade multiple times, causing a decline in the interest of local youths.
“Young people are different; they don’t want that,” he said. “They want to be surprised.”
Channel 3 then changed its approach and began concentrating on creating dramas with captivating and unpredictable stories in response to this shift in viewer desire.
One size does not fit all
While the youths in Thailand may prefer a certain type of content, Channel 3 is mindful that the Asian market is highly diverse in its content preferences. This drives their efforts to adapt content that will appeal to markets beyond Thailand.
For instance, Mr Charkrit pointed out that unlike Korea and Japan, audiences in Indonesia and Singapore enjoy watching horror shows.
Subha Lakshmi D/O Nilavazhagan, 20, a third-year mass communication student said: “I particularly love Thai horror shows, it’s more thrilling compared to other shows.”
Freelancer Teoh Enqi, 20, added: “There was a Thai series I recently watched about a bunch of unwanted children being sent to a boarding school which focused on values and character development rather than just grades. As a Singaporean, I felt this was a fresh take on education systems and wish to bring upon more positive learning environments here as well.”
Showcasing the Shows
The last step in production would be to promote the shows, and in today’s ever-evolving technological landscape, it’s vital to tap into what works best.
With nearly a million followers on Instagram, Channel 3 posts updates and short-form trailers of their drama series.
Mr Chakrit said: “Right now, people like to watch vertical style content, such as Reels or TikTok, so we make such content. These videos are usually less than 60 minutes but tell a lot of things. It’s like fishing where you bait the viewers with a small snippet of the content to grab their attention to watch it in full.”
At the end of the session with the DMC students, Mr Chakrit had these parting words for aspiring content creators: “It’s not about making the best content, but it’s about making what your viewers are looking forward to seeing or expect from you. Remember your audience, and create based on them.”
Additional reporting by: Safiyyah ‘Aliyah Binte Suraidi