Fremantle’s Indonesia team has swelled its domestic slate with a series of podcasts that plug video production gaps created by Covid-19 containment measures.
The three podcasts driving the new direction, rolled out in May 2020 as lockdowns took hold, are “Kisah Horor The Sacred Riana”, “Lenyap” and “Pembunuh Berantai”. Uploads to Spotify started in August 2020. All three were in the top 20 in Indonesia by the beginning of December 2020.
“Kisah Horor The Sacred Riana” (“Sacred Riana’s Horror Stories”) is produced with Indonesian production house, Wahana Kreator. “Lenyap” (“Vanished”) and “Pembunuh Berantai” (“Serial Killers”) were done in-house.
The Sacred Riana’s weekly podcast, “Kisah Horor The Sacred Riana”, presents scary stories, urban legends and folklore in the tradition of Indonesian magician and illusionist, who shot to global fame after she won “Asia’s Got Talent” season two in 2017. She was also a quarter finalist in “America’s Got Talent” season 13 in 2018.
Fremantle has gathered talent from across the entertainment spectrum to tell the stories across two seasons so far. Presenters include actor Ibnu Jamil, singer Widi Mulia, actress Rachel Amanda Aurora and singer Ihsan Tarore.
True crime podcast “Lenyap”, which shot to number one trending podcast in Indonesia in early December, focuses on the country’s most infamous murders and how they were solved. The podcast is hosted by Marissa Jeffryna.
The third podcast is “Pembunuh Berantai”, an Indonesian adaptation of U.S.-based Parcast Network’s “Serial Killers”, which digs into the minds and methods of serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.
So far, audiences are fairly evenly split between male and female, with the largest audience between 23 and 27 years old. The lowest listenership is among 45+ year olds.
In adding podcasts to a decades-old video/audio entertainment business, the Indonesia team learned whole new ways of engaging, of playing “with listeners theatre of the mind to that they listen from beginning to end,” says Sakti Parantean, Fremantle’s Indonesia’s co-managing director with Victor Ariesza.
“The response created by audio bits sends an emotional signal to their brain, which is then processed into visual imagination. This also applies to the structure of content, where transition between every act has to be delivered with theatre of mind approach. This is the biggest learning migrating from audio-video to audio only,” he adds.
Five months after the first podcasts streamed, Parantean says “any kind of story, from comedy, romance, talk show, horror to true crime,” can work as a podcast in Indonesia.
“But, personally I’m triggered to create forms that are hard to produce or expensive to produce in audio visual and secondly stories that could hit right to your nerve via audio such as horror or true-crime,” he says.
Fremantle’s new audio-only productions in Bahasa Indonesia are part of a burgeoning podcast business around the world.
Parantean says he has seen a marked increase in local podcasts in the past two years, beginning with homegrown efforts and upgrading from there.
Podcasts’ rise in Indonesia is layered on top of already high listenership of music and radio shows in the country’s notoriously long and traffic-jammed commutes. That was pre-Covid. Post-Covid, consumers’ appetite for all forms of entertainment has soared.
“During the pandemic, consumption of digital content has increased, including podcasts,” Parantean says, adding: “I think people are more willing to explore new forms of entertainment.”
The addition of podcasts hasn’t necessarily meant a major rework of the team on the ground for Fremantle in Jakarta.
Parantean says Fremantle’s audio-visual team has all the basic skills needed to produce podcasts.
“The drill is similar,” Parantean says. “Deep research, great storytelling and clever narration”.