TVB had several big hits over the years with Triumph In The Skies II in 2013, Line Walker in 2014, Ghost Of Relativity in 2016 and many more others. During the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the broadcaster had its usual parade of stars and trailers of a promising variety of dramas in 2018.
In the face of competition from the booming Mainland Chinese television industry and the enduring Korean Wave, Hong Kong’s leading broadcaster’s dramas are still receiving good ratings. “We are still producing about 600 hrs of drama plus 260 half-an hour of sitcom a year, and due to recent development in China, we are also upgrading our production substantially so that our dramas can go anywhere in Asia,” said Deputy General Manager of Television Broadcasts Limited Mr. Felix To. “TVB drama has a long history broadcasting in China; so much so that there’s an audience base called ‘Hong Kong fans’ in China. We are enjoying the benefits of appealing to this niche community that finds our content incredibly alluring. Any niche in China is huge.
“To remain competitive in China, we have to keep producing high quality dramas. We are producing drama series that are quite mainstream in China. Last year the drama series Line Walker II alone reached 2.5 billion streaming views in China. The proliferation of online streaming has suddenly brought an influx of viewers. Hence, there is a growing demand for high quality drama series. Now we produce 22 to 23 drama series a year of which four are of first grade Hong Kong dramas,” he added.
For decades, TVB has diplomatically invented a ‘factory system’ to produce dramas; otherwise, the operator would be unable to manufacture enough products globally renowned with the Chinese community and serve it well over the years. This mass quantity of production may have resulted in an ‘average quality’. China market consumes a large amount of dramas with many OTT streaming sites available in the country. With the explosion of the internet, the demand for quality content has increased.
“I strongly believe if we want to remain superior in the local market, we have to perform in the global market as there are eyeballs watching our content from everywhere. Due to the direction of the ‘factory system’, our enhancement will be implemented in stages. Currently we are producing four high quality dramas per year of quasi theatrical in terms of production set-ups. TVB’s desire is to produce six and then eight and more eventually. We are setting the challenge for ourselves by raising the bar. Once started, the audience will expect this quality across all TVB dramas,” he added.
“TVB drama is dominant in Hong Kong, well received in Malaysia, Singapore and it is picking up momentum in Taiwan. In China, TVB has always been a staple for its viewers. As China is an enormous market, Hong Kong drama as a genre, has limited influence. Therefore, we need to maintain our relative positioning in Southeast Asia while trying to make more inroads into the Chinese market.”
“We are exploring production resources in Taiwan and Korea where quality standards have highly established. We would like to make good use of their expertise and enter into production partnership and absorb their knowledge,” said Felix.