The hot distribution platform to watch in Asia will be ad-sponsored video-on-demand, says Ross Pollack, Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) senior VP distribution, Asia.

'Free VOD has considerable traction,' Pollack tells Screen International. 'It's not replacing VOD but complementing it.' The concept offers consumers select free feature films on demand if they watch paid commercials.

He added that the free VOD market was a 'win-win-win-win' because the consumer gets free content, the content host and the rights holder both get paid, and the advertiser gets to target an audience.

As with other new technologies, Korea is leading the way with companies like web portal Daum offering free VOD content. (Elsewhere, LoveFilm in the UK last week announced that it will offer free VOD features.)

SPTI recently announced a distribution deal with CJ Entertainment, working with select catalogue and current titles such as A Dirty Carnival. Other partnerships with Asian producers are likely, Pollack says. 'We're looking for long-term relationships with producers, that makes more sense than just working movie by movie.'

Growth areas for production in Asia according to Pollack include Thailand, Vietnam and the Indian independent (non-Bollywood) sector. He also said: 'Japan has been revitalised over the past few years.'

Another area of growth is local-language film and TV programmes travelling more widely within Asia outside their home territories. 'People want to be told stories in languages and cultures that they can relate to. There is absolutely openness to products from other countries,' Pollack said.

Overall, the value of the Asian market is growing, thanks to traditional sales holding steady and new content buyers like telecom companies and internet providers adding to revenue streams. Mobile is also taking off thanks to widespread broadband growth in Asia. '[SPTI] established a mobile group a year ago and we've seen tremendous explosion,' Pollack said. 'There is interest in experimenting in longer format on mobile as well.'

SPTI has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore with plans to expand.