Letv to spend HK$6 billion in local TV drama production

Letv, one of China’s largest entertainment platforms, is set to pump in some HK$6 billion in local TV drama production to shake up the stagnant local TV drama market, targeting to produce five dramas in two years.

Apart from drama, the investment is expected to include the purchase of video content copyright, programme production, product production costs, customer service, a hotline centre operation and an e-commerce operation.

As a newcomer, the entertainment company has established partnerships with well-known television stations and production houses in Korea, Japan and China and served markets outside of Asia, including the BBC and Sanlih Entertainment Television.

In terms of movies, Letv has inked a partnership with key film suppliers, including Golden Scene, Pegasus Movie, China Star ENT, Celestial Movies, Golden Harvest, Fortune Star Entertainment and My Way Film.

Letv is also in keen discussions with major Hollywood studios to purchase the copyright of their films and TV dramas.

The move comes with the booming internet video entertainment market in Hong Kong. According to a survey commissioned by Letv on “Video programme viewing habits of Hong Kong people”, video-on-demand is gaining prevalence and the “prime time” core concept has evolved alongside the rapid development of technology and the internet.

According to the survey, only half of the respondents watch TV or video programmes during traditional “prime time,” but as much as 49% of the respondents prefer watching videos-on-demand (VOD).

This shows the concept of “prime time” has changed, with fewer and fewer viewers choosing to watch scheduled TV programme broadcasts.

The survey also found that 53% of respondents preferred to watch programmes-on-demand that can fit around their schedules and allow more flexibility.

Twenty-two per cent of Hong Kong people watch live TV at home only once or less than once a week, and 37% of them watch live TV at home two to four times a week, similar to the number of people (37%) who watch VOD two to four times a week.

The results show that an era of internet television is on the rise, where internet TV and VOD will become prevalent among audiences and viewership of live TV broadcast will begin to dwindle.

Francis Fong, chairman of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing, indicated that the new generation tended to watch videos anytime and anywhere, so the OTT (over-the-top) play mode would become increasingly common.

Professor Anthony Fung, director of the School of Journalism and Communication of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the lack of TV industry players would jeopardise the video entertainment industry and limit the audience’s viewing options.

Only when more players are allowed in the field can the quality of the video programmes improve.

Lai Man Chuk, an experienced TV producer, said internet TV would be depended upon to lead the way for the television entertainment industry’s continued development.

Tin Mok, Letv’s vice-president and executive director of Asia Pacific, commented that as it develops, the industry must address the needs of audiences who prefer videos and programmes to be customised to their schedule and environment.

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