TVB unit rides on Now to increase coverage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 May, 2006, 12:00am

Television Broadcasts' (TVB) pay TV arm TVB Pay Vision will begin offering its service through PCCW Now Broadband TV from Wednesday.

The operator next month will launch three new channels called TVB - TVB Entertainment News channel, TVB Life channel and TVB News channel 2.

TVB Pay Vision, Hong Kong's smallest pay TV operator, is betting the network coverage of PCCW and the more than 500,000 subscribers will help to boost its subscriptions to more than 300,000 by next year from 70,000 at the moment.

A market source said the service on the Now platform would be made available to users at $128 per month for 16 channels. A company announcement on the tariff was expected this afternoon.

'Now will offer existing paid subscribers a two-month free trial on the TVB package. Those users with bills over $138 will qualify for the free trial,' the source said.

Now users will pay a monthly tariff of $128 with a 12-month contract after the two month trial. For other new users or Now free users, the monthly charge will be about $150 per month with 12-month commitment.

The source said that PCCW was charging TVB Pay Vision $50 a month for each TVB package subscriber as line-rental fee. The difference between the monthly tariff and PCCW service fee would be the net revenue of TVB Pay Vision. TVB Pay Vision is therefore set to gain $78 from each user per month.

TVB Pay Vision is also promoting the new service to all TVB staff at the monthly tariff of $78.

TVB Pay Vision also provides the service through Hutchison Global Communications network at a bundle price of $248 per month for 40 channels and HGC broadband connectivity.

The operator also transmits the service through a satellite platform at a monthly tariff of $198.

Market analysts believe that it will take time for TVB to make the pay TV operation profitable due to its high programming cost.

'Taking the about $200 million programming cost a year into account, it needs over 200,000 new users on Now to break even,' a media stocks analyst said.

The company announced its partnership with PCCW in March this year and its plan to extend its coverage to nearly two million households or 90 per cent of all households in the SAR.