Slide in television ratings is no drama, says TVB
Broadcaster blames declining viewer figures on old measurement system as it starts to count online views alongside traditional television
Falling television ratings are a result of shifting viewer habits as people move from watching TV to viewing shows on computers and mobile phones, TVB says, not because of waning interest in TV programmes.
The free-to-air broadcaster yesterday defended its dramas - traditionally the mainstay of its programming - using statistics from a new rating system that includes television and internet viewership.
The new system defied indications that TVB dramas were losing favour by showing that three series screened this year passed the popularity test if online audiences were taken into account, the station said.
TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong also responded to a report by the Communications Authority that said locals disliked programmes about luxury dining and game shows that were in bad taste.
"We can take it as a reference, but the report is not an authoritative representation of how Hongkongers view TVB," Cheong said.
More shows featuring cheaper dining options would be aired in the future, he said.
This year, low ratings have been putting pressure on the broadcaster's management.
Every TVB show aims to achieve a rating of more than 30 points. Each point represents 64,200 viewers, so a rating of 30 means an audience of more than 1.9 million people.
Ratings from research firm Nielsen had painted a gruesome picture. Beauty at War, the sequel to the successful 2004 series War and Beauty, fell below 20 points in May - a highly unusual outcome for a prime-time drama.
Only one drama, Inbound Troubles, averaged above 30.
But web viewership gave a popularity boost to three other series: Friendly Fire, Sergeant Tabloid and A Great Way to Care II, which depict the lives of legal professionals, policewomen and psychiatrists, respectively.
TVB uploads replays of its shows to MyTV, its official portal for online entertainment.
In measuring web viewership, Nielsen tracks how many times a user watches a video. Only if a user watches an entire show are they counted as a viewer.
Cheong said more viewers were tuning in via the web and he expected online advertising revenue to rise, although TVB would not be placing a lot more advertisements online.