Ratings of the controversial Journey to the West drama series are on the rise, and TVB has no plan to axe the show or move it to another timeslot, the broadcaster says.
The 50-episode mainland production, which airs during an evening prime-time slot, recorded 1.48 million viewers in the past week, compared with 1.4 million in its first week, said TVB executive director and group general manager Mark Lee Po-on.
The average number of viewers during the slot stands at 1.67 million, he said.
The drama serial, a work of mainland producer Zhang Jizhong, is based on the 16th century classic novel of the same name. It cost TVB 100 million yuan (HK$118 million) to produce, with special effects led by the team behind the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Watch: Trailer of Journey to the West
But the show received more than 1,100 complaints, the largest number lodged against any of the dramas TVB has offered.
Critics objected to the series' appalling special effects and unsophisticated characters, the Communications Authority said. Some said the show was too violent for children, and there was anger over TVB's choice of a dated mainland series for prime-time viewing. Others demanded that TVB axe the show.
Scriptwriter and critic Alex Pao Wai-chung said the special effects and props were below par. As the story was so well known, the decisive factor in winning an audience lay in its aesthetics, Pao said - and yet the special effects turned Hongkongers off.
"For example, the gold colour used in the show might appeal to mainland viewers," he said. "But to us, it is the kind of gold that can only be found in 'hell money' burned at funerals."
"Many young people like the drama very much. We have to broadcast shows that can entertain different groups of viewers," Lee said yesterday.
"I like it very much. I generally like the four Chinese classical novels, and this programme was not easy to produce."
On the station's web portal myTV, each episode managed fewer than 40,000 views, while the other ongoing prime-time series, M Club, recorded nearly 100,000 views.
On the broadcast of World Cup matches, TVB's general manager Cheong Shin-keong said 22 of the 64 matches would be offered on the station's free channels. It would share broadcasting rights with Now TV, and its operator PCCW would develop a smartphone app to allow users to watch all matches.