24 August 2019
HKTV will begin airing 'The Election', a political drama series, this week. Credit: HKTV
HKTV will begin airing 'The Election', a political drama series, this week. Credit: HKTV

HKTV has a different idea about prime time

Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), which is set to start broadcasting TV programs over the internet on Wednesday, is looking at extending the so-called prime time label to as long as 20 hours a day.

Chairman Ricky Wong told Ming Pao Daily that sticking to traditional prime time, which begins in the evening, may not be good for online TV operators, and that one can broadcast dramas even in the morning.

Citing the examples of online video websites in the mainland, he said that HKTV wants to offer more choices to people to watch TV dramas at their preferred time, whether it is early morning when they are out of bed, on the way to work, or during lunch time in the afternoon.

People should not have to wait until they go home to watch some TV, he said.

Anthony Fung, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, praised HKTV’s plan, saying that dispersing online drama viewers to different time periods can help draw more support from advertisers.

Extended prime time will help online TV operators, who are normally unable to compete with free-to-air TV broadcasters in terms of ad income and have to struggle for profit as production expenditure for each drama episode can easily top HK$1 million (US$128,960), he noted.

However, extending broadcast time to nearly 24 hours a day needs reliable technical support.

HKTV’s deputy director of information technology Ng Siu-lun said the operator will not use the Blue-ray picture quality at the Wednesday launch but instead go with DVD quality that is between ultra-high definition and the one seen on normal TV channels, based on the experience gained from test broadcasts earlier.

The picture quality will be adjusted later, he said.

As the number of viewers on the launch day is expected to reach 400,000, HKTV is using a 350GB band to broadcast its programs, and it will automatically shut door to new viewers once the band is fully used up. That will help prevent online traffic congestion or frozen screens.

He said there could be instances where its programs can be watched on smartphones or tablets but not on smart TVs that require much larger data transmission band.

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