WarnerMedia Readies Ground in Asia for HBO Max, Expanded Local Production

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WarnerMedia has made three more senior content hires in Asia to bolster its original productions teams in advance of the launch of HBO Max in the region.

In the Singapore-based team, Mark Francis has been appointed group lead of production and development (scripted and unscripted) and Wee Shi Ming has been named lead of entertainment content acquisition for North Asia content. They both report into Magdalene Ew, WarnerMedia’s head of content – entertainment for Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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In Mumbai, Saugata Mukherjee joins WarnerMedia as head of content – entertainment, India. The newly-created role, like Ew, reports into Clement Schwebig, MD of India, Southeast Asia & Korea.

The group has not yet set a launch date for HBO Max in Southeast Asia, but currently operates HBO Go as an interim service in eight markets in the region. Recent upgrades to the service include the addition of all new Warner Bros. Pictures, which will stream on HBO GO following their 45-day exclusive theatrical window.

Earlier this month, WarnerMedia said that Jason Monteiro will oversee HBO Go and the eventual launch of HBO Max in the region, building and leading a team of cross-functional executives. His hiring followed the surprise exit from WarnerMedia of Amit Malhotra, an experienced streaming executive who joined from Disney Plus only in June last year.

Of the latest hires, Schwebig said: “These are vital roles as we look to ramp up our original content and programming ambitions in this region. Saugata, Mark and Shi Ming have a great eye for a winning project and have enviable connections within the industry.”

Francis is the former head of OTT content at Astro and was chief content officer at the now defunct regional streamer Iflix. His role is to develop Asian original productions under the “Max Originals” banner.

Wee was previously at Viu and Sony Pictures Television Networks, where she was head of acquisition and programming for Asian content. Wee now works alongside Katheryn Lim, who leads content acquisition for international and English-language entertainment titles, with both of them reporting into Ew.

Former SonyLiv and Disney exec, Mukherjee joined in late 2021 and is responsible for commissioning local originals, as well as acquiring and developing Indian content across all general entertainment genres.

In September 2021, WarnerMedia previously announced the appointment of Audrey Wee as the physical production lead for its growing line-up of regional entertainment content in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. And in July, May-Yi Lee was named lead of development and production – unscripted for the same region. Wee reports into Ew while Lee reports into Francis.

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