Benjamin Li
May 30, 2013

Hong Kong Television Network previews programming despite lack of license

HONG KONG - While Ricky Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Television Network (HKTN), is still waiting for his free-to-air TV license, many have questioned his move to post previews of the company's programmes on YouTube.

A scene from one HKTV programme
A scene from one HKTV programme

A spokesperson for HKTN told Campaign Asia-Pacific by email that because the company is “not sure about the license grant, and even the government says they are unable to set a timeframe on the matter, we just wanted to get a feedback from public on the YouTube videos relating to our first batch of production work.”

A marketing industry veteran who has worked in both 4A agencies and the TV industry described the move as a "tactic". If HKTN gets strong feedback from consumers, it can be used as a bargaining chip with the government to potentially expedite the granting of the license.

"It is a smart move to test their digital and online programme, as marketers put more and more of their budget on online platforms and even globally, online video demand is on an upward trend," the source added.

The move could have a downside, because if the license is granted, advertisers might be less willing to advertise against the programming, reasoning that people have already seen the shows, he said.

KK Tsang, former CEO of GroupM Hong Kong, who has now opened his own creative community group, The Bees, said the move was smart online marketing. Even if HKTN gets the TV license, digital is still an important platform for building audience loyalty and awareness for their brands and programmes.

The delay in getting the TV licence can't be helping morale at HKTN, Tsang said, as the stars who have signed with the company are losing media exposure, which can in turn impact their ability to get additional jobs and brand-endorsement deals. However, Tsang said that even if several million online fans like HKTV's programmes, it would not exert much pressure on the government in the licensing process.

Tsang believes the current situation is a big headache for Wong, now that there's growing resistance from both TVB and ATV, who are filing legal actions to block the issuance of the licence.

"For us ad people and for our advertising clients, of course we support more free-to-air TV stations," Tsang said. "Right now there is no choice if you don’t choose TVB. And with their programme ratings dropping and their advertising fees remain the same, more competition will definitely be a good thing.”

However, at least one potential advertiser expressed skepticism about the new broadcaster. 

"We think HKTV may not be fit into the mass market like TVB, because the shooting method of the show is too movie style and difficult to understand," said Richard Leong, marketing director for Pizza Hut Hong Kong. "But this may be another type of TV choice for the Hong Kong market. With media inflation and big loyalty following on TVB, it would take them a longer time to fully penetrate into the market."

Alice Lee, GM of Media Palette Hong Kong, said that HKTV has invested massively in production, so the video clips may help create buzz and are thus a PR value generator for the company.

She added that the online platform may be part of a backup plan for HKTN in case the free-to-air license isn't granted in the near term. The clips succeeded in creating talk about the content, the shooting and the cast, she said.

Moreover, with the success of myTV and the trend of online viewing, no television producer would miss out on the online element these days, she added.

Campaign Asia

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