I wouldn't really call this a "rant", but rather something that I noticed recently about TVB programming that I felt was worthy of blogging about.
There has been an interesting phenomenon with TVB lately -- they've been premiering a few of their new series in HK and overseas (i.e. in the U.S.) at the same time -- which means that audiences in HK and overseas are able to watch the same series at the same time (well, same date, but not exactly same time slot, which makes sense due to time differences).
To understand why the above is so "interesting", let me give a little bit of background on how TVB works in terms of programming in HK and overseas. (Note that when I say "overseas", I am referring specifically to the U.S., since that is where I live).
HK's TVB channel (Jade):
TVB is a free-to-air television station in Hong Kong -- which means that it is a free channel that all households in HK can watch as long as they have a television. There is programming pretty much 24-7, with all the "brand new" series airing on weeknights and mostly news programs / variety shows / old series airing the rest of the time (throughout the day and late night). I've watched the TVB channel in HK many times and in my humble opinion, it's a really boring channel -- during the day, there is pretty much nothing to watch unless an old series that I like happens to air....plus the amount of news programs that comes on is extremely annoying (they intersperse news programs in there pretty much once every other hour). Of course, there is the occasional "special" program that comes on (such as awards shows or music specials) which may be of interest, but other than that, the "meat" of the programming is really between 8pm to 11pm HKT (approximately) on weeknights, since that is the timeslot where the new series usually air.
The way it usually works is that they start off with a sitcom at 8pm (I believe "Show Me the Happy" is on right now), then 2 new series usually air after it -- one at 8:30pm (currently, the series airing in this timeslot is "Only You") and another at 9:30pm (currently it's "The Rippling Blossom"). Sometimes, there is another series that may air at 10:30, but this is usually due to a special occasion (i.e. the miniseries "Dropping by Cloud Nine" aired last week in this timeslot for Valentine's Day).
So pretty much, prior to 8pm and after 11pm, there is not much to watch...and honestly speaking, with the declining quality in TVB's series the last couple years, it's possible that even the 8pm to 11pm timeslot is not worth watching either (depending on the series that happen to be airing during that timeslot, of course)......
If you want to see some of the special programs (such as those interview shows that were on previously -- i.e. Be My Guest or Big Four Up) and other specially designed programming, you would have to subscribe to TVB's pay channels (sort of like subscribing to Cable channels here in the U.S.).
TVB's satellite stations in the U.S. (JadeWorld):
If you live in the U.S., you can still get TVB's channels via satellite (you would have to pay for it of course) -- the one we subscribe to is the Jadeworld package, which includes 6 channels that are specifically designed for TVB's overseas audience. I actually think these satellite channels are WAY BETTER than the free TVB channel that HKers get, as there is so much more programming available -- plus we get to watch programs that are usually only available on TVB's pay channels in HK (so those who only have the regular "free" channel don't get to watch these programs).
With the satellite package, there are pretty much 3 regular TVB channels, 2 Mandarin channels, and 1 channel with content from Taiseng (TVB's distributor here in the U.S.). On the 3 regular channels, there is a good variety of old (like 80s/90s) and semi-old (after 2000s) series that come on throughout the day (I think the last time I counted, there were approximately 10 series airing in 1 day) -- so there are definitely ALOT more choices than the HK TVB channel has. We do get to watch the 'newer' series as well, but usually we have to wait a year for those (for example, 2009's anniversary series "Beyond the Realm of Conscience" and "Born Rich" just finished airing here at the end of last year, around November/December 2010). There are also news programs and variety shows, etc. interspersed throughout the day, but not as much compared to HK's channel -- plus we get the choice of 3 channels, so if a news program happens to be airing on 1 channel, we can flip through the other 2 channels and watch the series or variety show that may be airing on those channels. And I love how we get all the HK pay channel programs (i.e.: Entertainment News, interview shows, etc.) as part of the package, without having to pay anything extra.
So back to my original statement about the "interesting" phenomenon with TVB lately -- based on the above, it makes sense that the series currently airing in HK right now (2011) wouldn't be available for us overseas audiences until 2012....BUT much to my surprise, TVB started a new thing this week by premiering certain series simultaneously in both HK and here in the U.S. (I say "certain" because I'm not 100% sure if they are going to do this with all new series going forward or just with select ones). So on 2/21, when the series "Only You" premiered in HK, it also premiered simultaneously here in the U.S. same day. And it looks like they are doing the same thing with the series "Grace Under Fire", which is scheduled to premiere on 3/7 (I just saw the trailer for it on the channel that will be broadcasting it here). This means that we will be watching these series at the same time that the HK audiences are watching them (give or take a day due to the time zone differences)....now this is definitely a FIRST for TVB, as they usually only do simultaneous broadcasts like this for special shows such as anniversary galas, singing contests, awards shows, holiday specials, etc., but definitely NOT for series....
I actually have not heard anything specifically from TVB on why they decided to simultaneously broadcast series now, but I have my "speculations" on why they probably went this route (again, these are purely my speculations based on what I know about TVB and the trends nowadays)....
The main reason (I think) is because the overseas / international market is not as lucrative for TVB anymore as it once was, since there are so many choices nowadays in terms of series (i.e. TV series from Korea, Taiwan, Japan continue to increase in popularity), plus the on-line streaming of TVB's series is so commonplace now (I personally can't stand watching TV series and movies on a computer, so I'm probably one of the few who actually still watches stuff only on TV or on DVD/VCD/video tape). Also, the illegal pirating of TVB's series continues to be extremely prevalent here (just take a stroll in the DVD shops in Chinatown or Monterey Park and you will see exactly what I mean)....those who know me know that I hate watching "bootleg" versions of stuff, so I actually have to go very much out of the way to find original versions of the series to watch (lately, I've had to resort to buying directly from the distributor Taiseng...but that's another story altogether).
Also the advances in technology (specifically the popularity of the Internet) have given rise to many on-line forums and websites dedicated to discussing TVB’s series. Of course, very few of these sites are dedicated to talking about “old” series (meaning from the 80s/90s), which is understandable, since we ARE in the 21st century now – plus most of the younger generation (those born in the 90s and later) living overseas (outside of HK) nowadays rarely watch the “old stuff” – it’s the new series starring the current idols that they are primarily interested in.
So if the “new” series are only available to watch in HK (either on TVB’s Jade Channel or on their website), where are the overseas audiences going to go to watch these same series (and subsequently discuss them with friends on-line)? Well, unless they physically move to HK (which is definitely not going to happen), the only other options (I would think) are watching via various (usually unauthorized) websites on-line or buying a cheap bootleg version at their local Chinatown.
To be honest, there is really no way for TVB to stop people from doing the above (downloading / watching on-line or buying bootleg versions), since it’s so prevalent and widespread (it’s pretty much an everyday occurrence in society now)…..so what is the most logical thing to do? IMO, the most logical thing is for TVB to voluntarily make the content available to as many overseas audiences as possible via their own legitimate sources and therefore hopefully discourage people from going the ‘unconventional’ route. And this seems exactly like what TVB is trying to do with the simultaneous airing of new series recently…
So in conclusion (sorry for the long “rant”), it does seem like TVB is starting to change their marketing strategy and reach out to more overseas audiences. In terms of their reasons for doing this – well, I could sit here and speculate all day about it, but then that would be overkill…so pretty much I am just going to sit tight and see what happens.
Lastly, the ironic thing is that I am blogging about this ‘phenomenon’, yet it actually doesn’t affect me much because I’m already a member of Taiseng’s DVD club – which means that I already get all the new series sent to me on DVD directly from TVB’s distributor at the same time the series air in HK…..so in a sense, whether the new series air on TV simultaneously or not doesn’t matter to me, since I’ll get the series on DVD within a week and can watch it later on my own time if I want….
I’m currently watching “Only You” and to be honest, it’s a bit boring….yes, there are a lot of “guest stars” and it’s interesting to see who the story is going to be about next, but unfortunately, that’s really not enough to spark my interest. Hopefully the series gets interesting soon because if not, I may abandon it altogether.
As for the other series that will be airing simultaneously – “Grace Under Fire” – I actually have no interest in watching it. I’m not too keen on the cast first of all (except for maybe John Chiang) and second, it’s about martial arts legend Wong Fei Hung again – honestly, there have been so many WFH series and movies over the past 3 decades that I am so sick and tired of it. Lastly, the female lead is gymnast Liu Xuan and in watching the preview, looks like her voice is dubbed…the series doesn’t look appealing at all.