The battle between Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) and its rival Television Broadcasts (TVB) has intensified after TVB launched a pay-to-watch Internet service that allows subscribers to watch a huge back-catalogue 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 connected devices.
But TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong said its new service, branded 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. 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 around 350 drama series –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.