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Rialto to take Pulse of Asia

Rialto Channel, Auckland, 15 April 2016: New Zealand-owned Rialto Channel is building on its strategic alliance with Hong Kong-based content distributors, Lightning International, to launch a new documentary channel this week.

Launching first to a potential 40 million households in Indonesia, Pulse Television will soon be screening New Zealand content in 11 countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, India, China, and Korea, with an estimated potential reach of 186 million households. Eventually, Pulse Television directors hope to include New Zealand and Australia in the Asia Pacific mix.

Rialto Channel Director, Andrew Hawken, says the launch of Pulse Television is a significant industry and New Zealand first, and will be followed by other channels launching in these markets.

“The Asian TV market is highly competitive with a wide range of robust and easy to use services available plus they are quite diverse in their content strategies. In spite of the differences, all TV operators are sending the same clear message – consumers are moving away from boring formulaic reality factual series and looking for quality, variety and interesting international content tailored for local markets,” Andrew says.

“Most operators have already started to lay the foundations to actively look for bespoke channels ahead of the arrival of the streaming giants. This is particularly relevant where Ultra Fast Broadband has been rolled out. More recently, we are seeing a strong rise in demand for quality programming such as feature length documentaries and alternative films – and Pulse Television has been designed to deliver to that.”

Far from sitting still or trying to defend against the streaming revolution, Andrew says they are embracing the opportunities to deliver a differentiated and valuable product with region-wide appeal.

“We are in the midst of a definite shift in content strategy and we plan to be on board that flight to quality,” he says.

The new documentary channel will comprise approximately 20 per cent New Zealand content plus content from the US, Britain and Asia, along with local content from the region. Lightning International will help tailor content for each region, taking into account cultural and religious sensitivities and differences in content demand.

Andrew says the launch is a significant step forward for New Zealand productions. “The travel series Across the World with Te Radar, for example, will now be available to millions of people tuning into Pulse Television. This is the first time Kiwi content will land in those markets so this is a great opportunity for our industry,” he says.

Glenn Usmar, Head of Television for NZ On Air says, “New Zealand producers make world-quality documentaries. While our focus is on serving local audiences it is great to see the content we’ve funded finding large offshore audiences. It not only provides revenue for the production industry, but also takes our culture to the world.”

Andrew, who is credited with starting listed Zintel Communications and stand out electricity retailer, Empower, adds: “Pulse Television could also provide a platform for New Zealand companies to advertise in these international markets, so we are also investigating those opportunities.”

Rialto Channel, born out of the Rialto Cinema and distribution businesses, has been on-air for more than 16 years and has continued to grow with its passion for great content. The launch of Pulse Television coincides with Rialto Channel taking a significant stake in Lightning International, which is the strongest independent distributor in the region.

“We have big aspirations for the company. We are starting strong launching a New Zealand company globally, and we’re looking forward to the response,” Andrew says.

James Ross, CEO Lightning International adds: “We are very excited to be working with Rialto Channel to bring great documentaries from New Zealand, Asia and around the world to the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Pulse Television rollout starts today and will be complete by the end of 2017, with an estimated potential reach of 186 million households. The channel will look to use the full range of digital options including OTT and direct to consumer cloud-based systems.