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Asian-TV Portal Plans Marketing Campaign

An Asian- and English-language broadband-content provider is ramping up its business in the United States, establishing ad-sales offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco in advance of a viewership push targeting audiences in those communities.

The portal, m2btv, offers programming targeted toward Asian immigrants to the United States.

Colin Binny, CEO of Singapore-based parent company Amaru, said part of the programming is free, but viewers who want more can subscribe to packages for $8-$12 per month.

The service also markets videoconferencing capabilities to families wishing to communicate to Asia.

Affluent and technically savvy Asian Americans are increasingly being targeted by new and established cable networks, such as ImaginAsian TV and the MTV World suite (which is going off the air, MTV Networks said last week), and by IPTV ventures like m2btv and New York-based KyLin TV.

Viewers who want to watch the portal on television sets can receive a Pony-brand box along with their subscription, currently $12 per month; or can buy the box outright for $828.

Binny also said he’s approached several cable and telephone companies to negotiate carriage of m2btv content on-demand. A key part of the venture’s business model is to be able to syndicate programming on other platforms, he added.

At the portal, 71 channels are offered in various localized or international tiers. Channel niches include information on China today, healthy Asian cooking, period dramas from the Far East and lifestyle programming.

Content is from Asian sources such as KBS, the Korean broadcasting company; and Sony Pictures, from which m2btv has licensed a library of theatrical films, according to Binny. Programming is in a mix of languages.

The company, now in its third year, claims 100 million viewers worldwide. About 50 million viewers in the United States have already found the portal, Binny said.

The portal has already had a soft launch in the United States, with potential viewers directed to the site via links on other Web sites targeting young, working Asian transplants aged 20-30.

Binny said m2btv turned a profit last year, based on advertising rather than subscription revenue. Ad pricing is based on estimated viewership of the content.

In Asia, advertisers have included L’Oreal of Asia and Planet Fitness clubs; in America, the advertising will be localized, he said.

The company will target 14 communities in the United States, beginning with Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, soliciting subscription viewers via Asian community media. Other communities to be targeted include Chicago; Dallas; Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee and Miami, Fla.; Houston; Newark, N.J.; Newport Beach and San Jose, Calif., Philadelphia; and Toledo, Ohio.