TVB all set to go places

| Siu Sai-wo 26 Sep 2016

Set-top boxes, popular in recent years, are a considerable threat to conventional television services.

In the US and Canada, where TVB programs have long held sway among Chinese, cheap boxes proliferate and local pay-TV operators are finding themselves defenseless against such onslaughts.

The tide turned after a station won a copyright infringement lawsuit and TV boxes beat a hasty retreat, causing my colleagues overseas predicted an imminent fight-back from TVB.

Sure enough, last week it launched a TVB Anywhere service that enables Chinese in Canada, UK, Australia and beyond to watch its programs, a move that could help it recoup lost viewers.

TVB deputy general manager (legal & international operations) Desmond Chan Shu-hung called the service "an electronic mall" and said it offers more than the usual video streaming service.

"The mall carries the popular TVB Jade, News and other thematic channels, including Asian Action, Entertainment News, TVB Live Shows and TVB Radio, as well as voluminous video-on-demand programs, which can be viewed on our prescribed set-top box or mobile app," he elaborated.

There is a bonus point scheme and a gift store for viewers to accumulate points as they watch and use the points to redeem VOD titles free of charge.

Users can also buy a program as a gift for relatives and friends in the same territory or elsewhere.

Group general manager Mark Lee Po- on had observed that the once all- powerful free-to-air broadcasting mode has been overtaken by targeted viewing.

He said nowadays few people watch programs at a specific time, a specific place on a specific screen, and there is an urgent need for TVB to retain viewers.

So it makes sense for TVB to develop internet TV service earnestly in recent years.

America's VOD service Netflix has inflicted heavy damage on established TV channels by offering a huge range of content- from drama to news and specials - all for US$9.90 (HK$77.22) a month, which is yet another reason for conventional television to change with the times.

Production and star-making are TVB's core strengths, and these should prove to be its greatest survival assets in the turbulent currents of change.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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