The below article actually came out earlier in the week, I just didn’t have time to actually post about it until now.
On 1/14, TVB officially launched GOTV, which allows audiences in HK to view TVB series on mobile devices as well as the Internet. As the article states, the service will be on a ‘paid subscription’ basis (similar to Netflix) whereby users will pay a monthly fee and be able to view as many TVB series as they want.
When I first heard of this service a few months ago (TVB has been talking about it for awhile), my first concern was what the ‘library’ would look like in terms of which series would be available to watch. As we all know, TVB’s series have really gone downhill in recent years and many of their series nowadays are not worth watching at all – so if the majority of the series available would be the recent ones (i.e. the ones made after 2000), then this service would definitely not be worth subscribing to. However, if the older series are in there – especially the ‘classics’ from the 70s/80s/early 90s eras, then yes, this service will be absolutely valuable, as it will give audiences a chance to watch those older series that are very hard to find anywhere else nowadays.
I actually went in to check out the library of series being offered and am happy to report that it looks like many of the older series will be in there! I chose the ‘By Year’ option and in browsing through the list, I saw that there are quite a few series in there from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s that will be made available. Right now, most of the series that are actually uploaded are recent series (not surprisingly), but at least the ‘shells’ for the older series are in there already, which means that it is just a matter of time before those get uploaded (looks like TVB is taking the gradual approach with this project and uploading a portion of the series to test the system out first).
With all that said however, it doesn’t look like all the series TVB ever produced will be in there, at least not initially. The current library consists of 341 series according to the article, which actually isn’t a lot at all considering how many series TVB has produced over the past 46 years (just as a point of reference – based on my calculations, the number of series TVB has produced over the past 4 decades is way over 1000). I’m not sure what ‘criteria’ TVB is using to determine which series should be added and at what time, but hopefully it will get to a point where everything is available (though my guess is that this probably won’t happen until a few years down the road).
The other thing I noticed when browsing is that TVB also has many of their TV-movies in there as well (TVB produced A LOT of those back in the 80s/90s and many of them were just as good as their regular series) – this is definitely a good move, as I’m sure many of today’s audiences haven’t seen a lot of the TV-movies that were produced back then. The only other thing I wish this service had was a section for variety shows and specialty programs, as those programs are truly hard to find nowadays and are absolutely a valuable piece of TVB as well as HK entertainment history. Perhaps later on down the road, once this service is more established, they might decide to add this feature…but for now, the series and TV-movies are good enough.
Personally, I’m quite excited about this service! Sure, I’ve seen majority of the older series (from the 70s/80s/90s) and already own most of them either on video tape or DVD, but there are quite a few that I haven’t watched in a long time and would like to re-watch – this service definitely makes it easier to do so. Most importantly though, this service gives today’s audiences a chance to experience what ‘quality series’ is truly about and finally understand why many of us TVB old-timers continue to speak so fondly of the ‘golden era’ of TVB. As many of us have reiterated over and over again, the series from back in the days were definitely way better produced than today’s series in almost all aspects (i.e. script, casting, acting, production values, etc.), but since the older series are so hard to find nowadays, audiences couldn’t really watch them even if they wanted to. With GOTV, audiences now have that chance to watch!
I actually haven’t had the chance to ‘explore’ the GOTV service in depth yet, so can’t really speak to the mechanics of the service and whether it truly does what it claims. I also don’t know how the picture quality of the series will be, especially with the older series – I’m pretty sure it won’t be in HD, but that’s ok…even if it’s old video tape quality, that’s still better than nothing.
TVB launches pay-to-watch internet television service
The battle between Hong Kong Television Network and its rival Television Broadcasts Ltd intensified on Tuesday after TVB launched a pay-to-watch internet service that allows subscribers to watch dramas it has produced since it was founded in 1967.
The launch came as HKTV was preparing for the July launch of its mobile TV service, which viewers will also be able to watch through internet-connected devices.
But TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong said its new service GOTV, was not started deliberately to steal business from Ricky Wong Wai-kay’s service, which he is launching after being denied a free-to-air licence.
“We have been planning this for two years…and we are launching pay-to-watch services, not free TV. The timing of the matter may give you this idea, but the truth is that it is not,” Cheong said yesterday.
But he admitted GOTV would be in “indirect competition” with HKTV.
TVB is charging subscribers HK$59 a month, or HK$499 a year.
Initially, the subscriptions will give audiences access to about 341 dramas –10,000 episodes in total – on their smartphones, tablets, or computers.
TVB plans to put more dramas into the service gradually.
Cheong said he hoped 100,000 people would have subscribed to the service by the end of the year. He did not reveal how much had been invested, but he believed it would take only one to two years to break even.
He said about a million Hongkongers had subscribed to pay TV channels such as i-Cable and Now TV and he hoped that the number of GOTV subscribers “will not be embarrassing” in a few years’ time.
“We are not competing against (HKTV) directly. But we are competing indirectly in the way that we are all fighting for the audience’s time,” Cheong said.
TVB said earlier that it would terminate the leasing of six transmission stations to China Mobile Hong Kong, which HKTV bought last month to air its programmes.
The broadcaster has cited legal uncertainties arising from China Mobile’s ongoing checks into the acquisition of its subsidiary to see if it violated mainland rules.
Cheong said yesterday that TVB had already sent a letter to HKTV to request a meeting on this matter, but had not received a reply.
The government rejected HKTV’s application for a free-to-air television licence several months ago. Then last month, it announced that it would be launching TV services through the internet from July 1.
It will be offering content on three to five channels. At least one of the channels to be offered from July will be a 24-hour news channel. The content of the rest is yet to be decided, but most will be free, except video-on-demand services.
Francis Fong Po-kiu, president of the Information Technology Federation, said that GOTV would pose a challenge to HKTV. The extent of the impact would be determined by the quality of the programmes offered.
“It depends on whether HKTV can keep the quality of its programmes in the future,” he said.
Fong also said that GOTV’s subscription price was reasonable. It should be able to attract a group of people who could not afford the time to watch television when the dramas were broadcast, but wanted to watch them when they had the time.