Movie magic

| Jourdan Ma 17 Nov 2017

Zubin Gandevia thought he would retire at 27, but after two decades, he is still mesmerized by broadcasting, which he terms "the industry of people." Formerly working for Star India and National Geographic under 21st Century Fox, the broadcast veteran is now the president of Fox Networks Group Asia.

"One of the biggest reasons I come to work is that we make a difference to the emotions of millions of people across the world. We have 300 million viewers in the Asia-Pacific," said Gandevia.

Taking the helm, he recently unveiled the company's first video- streaming service Fox+ in Hong Kong, soon after similar rollouts in the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

In recent years, media giants have seen a surge in demand for over-the-top services, launching their own digital channels one after another. To sustain them is a test of agility.

But Gandevia said Fox+ has been exceptional amid ambitious competitors.

To tap into the video-streaming craze, he has identified three pillars - content, consumer satisfaction and collaboration.

"Our mission is to ensure that we offer premium programs. We either invest in making our own shows, or buy the best content from other people," he said. "The US sitcom 2 Broke Girls from Warner Brothers, for example, is available in our channel."

The group's latest joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Tencent, the five-episode miniseries Trading Floor, produced by superstar Andy Lau Tak- wah, is expected to give a fresh twist to Asian TV productions.

Its literal translation, Hong Kong's Wall Street, will be gripping to those who long for a realistic interpretation of the financial market.

The story revolves around a Hong Kong senior official and a Burma-born stockbroker, and stars Hong Kong actor Francis Ng Chun-yu and Taiwan's Joseph Chang Hsiao-chuan.

It will not only woo traditional clientele but also millennials who are looking for cliffhangers and metaphors.

Gandevia said the series' quality is obvious and offers a reassurance about the future of Hollywood-quality productions in Asia.

Before Trading Floor hits the small screens, Fox+ subscribers can view over 10,000 hours of programs, from Hollywood blockbusters to TV series, documentaries to live sports.

Offering the latest episode on the same day as it airs elsewhere is basic. Viewers can also retrieve and binge- watch past seasons.

"Some programs work all over the world, such as the biggest sporting events, the Emmy Awards and our own National Geographic documentaries," he said.

Another example is the acclaimed post-apocalyptic TV series Walking Dead, which has "created a whole generation of people who believe in the zombie-run world."

Now Fox is poised to maintain its market position and, further, boost its Hong Kong audience with tailor-made streaming.

Specially curated for movie lovers, Hong Kong classics A Better Tomorrow and Police Story can be found in the streaming service. Adding to the list are Love Off the Cuff, starring Cantopop singer Miriam Yeung Chin- wah, and the award-winning local film Mad World.

"I see Fox+ as a new option for enthusiasts to consume great stories. Early from telling stories around the campfire to reading books, from watching black-and-white TV to the present, people always gravitate toward compelling stories," Gandevia said. "Only the way they access the stories has changed."

The streaming service offers coverage for up to 10 devices, enabling consumers to use mobile phones, tablets or laptops. Those who have subscribed to pay service Now TV can also enjoy the streaming.

An avid fan of Formula 1, his personal picks have gone to extremes, delving into the world of secrets through the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises, while immersing himself in the picturesque streets of Notting Hill.

Looking ahead, the broadcast veteran said being lucrative is crucial as he is responsible to the shareholders. But he also wants to fulfill the dreams of his people.

"I want to give all the people who work for me the same feeling that I have, but I haven't done as well as I should," he said.

"If they are satisfied, they will able to create moving stories that bring in new fans," he said.

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