Tuesday, November 18, 2014


As I'm sure most of you know by now, HKTV is officially launching today in HK.  I'm super-excited about the launch and can't wait to watch their programs.

Depending on my schedule, I'll probably post some commentary about the first few episodes of HKTV's 2 series throughout this week -- meanwhile though, here are 2 articles from SCMP about HKTV's anticipated launch as well as Ricky Wong's interview with local (meaning HK) media outlets.

A few interesting things in the articles -- the one I want to point out is the airing schedule for Borderline and The Election....looks like HKTV is experimenting with different schedules for their programs (which I'm fine with as long as they are clear with when they are airing stuff so people don't miss the times).  

Though it wasn't stated in either of the 2 articles below, I had heard in a radio interview earlier today that Ricky Wong does not plan on expanding overseas because to him, HKTV is Hong Kong people's station and he still wants to focus on HK audiences first and foremost (as an overseas Hong Konger, of course I will continue to complain about this point until he decides to change his mind....).  

Anyway....here you go....


HKTV looks to stream its way to success

Six hours of fresh programmes a day, all available on demand from early morning; that's HKTV's recipe for success in the battle to attract an audience of young, tech-savvy viewers with deep pockets.

Speaking to the Post yesterday, the new online channel's boss, Ricky Wong Wai-kay, set out his strategy ahead of its long-awaited launch tonight. Unlike a traditional station offering different programmes through the day, HKTV will follow the strategy of subscription-based foreign channels like HBO and AXN, with new programming in prime time and reruns all day.

"We are targeting a young, working population who have high consumption power," said Wong. Because this group lived a busy urban lifestyle and had little time to watch television every day, Wong said: "Two to three hours of programmes of the best quality are enough per day."

A typical night will see programmes streamed from 7pm until midnight including one hour of HKTV's self-produced programming, two hours of Korean drama, one hour of anime from Japan and one hour of shopping programmes. An hour of shopping shows will also be shown from 1pm.

But Wong says the new programmes will be available from the channel's on-demand service from 6am on the day they are due to be streamed, giving viewers flexibility in when they want to watch.

The programmes can be watched on computers or via mobile apps or set-top boxes.

The streaming kicks off at 8pm tonight, and the first night's schedule will focus on HKTV's original programming. The service begins with coverage of HKTV's launch ceremony, which takes place at the Marriott Hotel in Admiralty this afternoon.

At 8.30pm there is crime thriller Borderline, starring award-winning actor Liu Kai-chi. The first episode has already been seen by more than one million online viewers after it was posted on YouTube.

It will be followed by political drama The Election at 9.30pm. Starring Liu and award-winning actress Angelica Lee Sinje, the drama depicts a 2022 election for chief executive in which the public can vote from a list of candidates chosen by a nominating committee.

The timely political show won more than 100,000 votes to top a poll asking visitors to HKTV's website which drama should kick off its coverage.

The first episode of The Challenge, described as an "infotainment" series, begins at 10.30pm. It features actors Ai Wai, Lau Yuk-chui and Lawrence Chou Tsun-wai on an expedition into the seven-kilometre Son Doong Cave in central Vietnam.

HKTV will feature Borderline at 9pm every weeknight. The Election runs on Saturday nights while The Challenge and another infotainment programme, Gone With The Wind, run on Sundays.

Wong looked online after the government controversially rejected HKTV's bid for a free-to-air licence while approving those of two established pay-television operators, and after plans to use a mobile licence fell through on technical grounds.

But media critic Peter Lam Yuk-wah said the model Wong had come up with had a strong chance of success, pointing to the example of US on-demand television service Netflix.

"You and I don't watch six hours of TV per day," Lam said. "You create your own TV timetable around your lifestyle, not living around the TV timetable like people did in the past. People watch streaming or pre-downloaded programmes on the train now. They don't sit in front of a TV with an antenna on it."

Lam said Wong's chances of success depended on whether the infrastructure could handle the likely number of viewers - and the quality of the product.

"I hope his programmes are as good as [Wong] says."



January 2003: Ricky Wong Wai-kay, chairman of City Telecom (CTI), prepares to launch web-based pay-television services under his company's internet business unit, Hong Kong Broadband Network, after government says the CTI service does not need a broadcast licence because it is based on an open online platform

December 2008: Wong is named chief executive of free-to-air broadcaster ATV. He steps down after just 12 days

December 2009: CTI applies for free-to-air licence

June 2010: China Mobile Hong Kong pays HK$175 million to win bid for 15-year unified carrier licence to operate mobile television using radio spectrum

August 2011: CTI announces HK$600 million plan to build television and multimedia production centre in Tseung Kwan O

April: CTI, focused on entering free-to-air television market, agrees to sell telecommunications assets for HK$5.01 billion to a company backed by British buyout firm CVC Capital Partners

December: CTI changes its name to Hong Kong Television Network and names its station HKTV

October: HKTV's application for free-to-air licence rejected, sparking a public outcry. Wong plans to lay off 320 staff

December: After buying China Mobile Hong Kong for HK$142 million, Wong says HKTV will launch internet television services from July 2014, and rehire those he fired

This year

January: Parent company China Mobile investigates HKTV's purchase of its local unit, saying it may have violated mainland rules. Wong files application for a judicial review of government's rejection of his licence application. Free-to-air broadcaster TVB announces plan to end China Mobile Hong Kong's lease on six transmission stations, putting HKTV's plans in jeopardy

March: HKTV suspends plans to launch digital television services in July and stops filming new programmes

April: HKTV submits a fresh application for a free-to-air television licence to the Communications Authority

August: The Court of First Instance hears HKTV's application for a judicial review of the government's October 2012 decision to award licences to channels run by pay-television players PCCW and iCable Communications, but not to HKTV

Today: HKTV launches internet TV services

Ricky Wong seeks new audience as HKTV goes live

Source:  SCMP

Suddenly, Ricky Wong Wai-kay feels he knows what it is like to be heavily pregnant. After five years of struggles and detours that even saw mass protests outside government headquarters, his HKTV is born today.

The vision is somewhat different from the original plan: HKTV goes live via computers, mobile apps and set-top boxes rather than as a free-to-air television channel. But Wong still sees untapped potential outside the traditional television audience - and believes one million hits for each of his station's dramas is possible.

"If we say 20 per cent of Hong Kong's population watches [free-to-air] TVB, this means there are 80 per cent out there who are not watching TVB," Wong told the Post yesterday. An average of 1.5 million viewers watch TVB dramas, with episodes typically getting 20,000 to 70,000 hits on its online streaming service.

But Wong, who was controversially denied a free-to-air licence by the government in 2012, sparking protests, denies he is going head to head with TVB - despite the fact the launch coincides with TVB's 47th anniversary celebrations.

Instead of the housewife or the family crowded around the set, Wong sees his audience as individuals who want to control their own schedule. As well as streaming programmes on a fixed schedule, HKTV shows will be available on demand. Its website's servers can handle up to 400,000 users at once, he says

"We want to give more options to these people," he said. Citing the example of the Occupy Central protests, he added: "You can't talk to young people today in a top-down manner.

"Today's consumers are very savvy and do not listen to so-called authoritative figures. We are not aggressively imposing HKTV onto people. We share an equal footing with the audience."

Media critic Peter Lam Yuk-wah sees strong potential. As well as 2.23 million subscribers to fixed-line broadband at some of the world's fastest speeds, the city has the highest mobile phone ownership rate in the world.

HKTV has made 22 dramas so far and a number of variety shows. Wong says he has enough content to sustain the station for a year, though a decision on making more programmes will not come until next year.

The station has invested more than HK$1 billion of the HK$5 billion Wong made from selling his telecommunications empire. HKTV lost HK$163.1 million in the year ending in August, a fourfold increase on the year before.

The company will make money from advertising and from an online shopping platform to launch next month. Wong says advertising revenue has been above expectations, but viewers will decide HKTV's fate.

"HKTV belongs to the people of Hong Kong. If Hong Kong people don't care, we'd rather not do it," Wong said.


  1. EH? but Astro MY will be screening it - doesnt that means Overseas viewers too?

  2. not yet. you'll need a vpn to watch if you're in North America. the live stream is laggy as hell on vpn. the on demand stuff is more stable but quality keeps going down from 720p to 480p all the time.

    just watched election. it's very good. gonna take some time getting used to Angelica Lee's accent though. I don't ever remember her accent being this thick. btw, it's very clear that their audience is young people...first commercials i saw on HKTV were for condoms and LUBE haha. plus supposed "good" characters have clear vices such as drugs and loose women. no way would TVB ever allow for a "good guy" to be written like that.

    1. Yea TVB and their goodie two shoes main characters! How boring!

  3. @Anonymous: Yup, definitely need VPN for overseas. I'm actually able to watch the on demand stuff just fine (quality has been pretty good and connection stable), so I'm a happy camper.

    I think it also depends on the time you watch. I try to avoid HK's "peak" hours (i.e. lunch time like between 11am to 1pm, since that's when most Hong Kongers are watching on their ipads, tablets, phones, etc.).

    Oh, and the connection actually works way better on Ipad than it does on the computer. In fact, I couldn't connect at all from my computer (buffering was so horrible, I couldn't even get past the commercials!), but was absolutely fine on my Ipad via the HKTV app.

    I actually haven't watched The Election yet -- I plan on watching that one tomorrow or Friday, since the next episode won't be uploaded until Saturday anyway. I prefer to watch Borderline first, since those episodes are uploaded daily and I don't want to fall too far behind.

    1. Just caught Borderline episode 2 and 3. I liked ep 2 and 3 much better than the premiere episode. I felt the scene where Eagle lets his son go at the gun store with Liu Kai Chi's character was kind of hokey. I loved the pacing in the 2nd and 3rd episode and it was great they got the hokey stuff (establishing all three male leads as "good guys", but with a twist) out of the way in episode 1. They established the A,B and C stories really quickly compared to TVB. You got what each episode was about immediately in the cold open and no time was wasted with 2 minute intro. Really refreshing to watch.

    2. @Anonymous: I just finished watching episode 4 and can't wait for episode 5 tomorrow! I actually felt episode 1 was already pretty good, but subsequent episodes (2, 3, and 4) have been even better. Obviously, I'm hooked on this series! :-)

      By the way, I haven't had the chance to write up actual posts about Borderline on my blog yet, but we've got some discussions going on the series already over at Asianfanatics -- most of my specific comments about the series so far are posted over there: http://afspot.net/forum/forum/574-the-borderline-%E8%AD%A6%E7%95%8C%E7%B7%9A/

  4. Any help in forwarding the vpn link? I want to watch Election actually...

    1. @fangorn: I posted the link to the vpn in my chatbox. After you buy it, should be pretty easy to set up, but if you need help, let me know (I'm at work so my response May be delayed though).