Keeping up with the Koreans: PCCW to offer OTT for TV series content in Hong Kong and beyond

Viu OTT will bring fresh foreign content to audiences in Hong Kong and beyond

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2015, 12:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 November, 2015, 4:55am

Telecom giant PCCW is expanding into the OTT frontier with a new platform dedicated to fresh Korean TV content eyeing markets in Hong Kong and beyond, despite foreseeable intense competition.

Janice Lee, managing director of PCCW Media Group, said the launch of new platform Viu OTT was an attempt to swiftly respond to changing audience habits locally and abroad, despite advertising dollars not yet catching up with the fast-growing online media industry.

“Audiences watch content all over the world and they want the content now,” Lee said. “But TV stations are too slow.”

READ MORE: US giant 21st Century Fox to battle TVB with new platforms for Hong Kong internet TV viewers

The launch of the new OTT platform followed PCCW’s earlier acquisition of Vuclip, a mobile video-on-demand platform that has 8 million subscribers. The new platform can be viewed on smartphones, tablets and computers.

She said local and regional audiences were keen on foreign TV content, particularly Korean and American drama series. But they had to wait a long time for these shows to appear in their local TV channels due to rights issues and post-production times in local markets.

Over-the-top content, or OTT, is a way of transmitting audio-visual content via the internet. It has become a new battleground for media corporations as mainland-owned LeTV, home-grown broadcasting giant TVB, American success story Netflix, and FOX International Channels are venturing into OTT in the coming six months.

Lee said the new Viu OTT platform primarily offered fresh TV content from South Korea for free in Hong Kong.

She said deals with major Korean broadcasters allowed the platform to show programmes just eight hours after they were aired on South Korean TV channels. An army of translators worked overnight to produce subtitles in traditional Chinese characters for Hong Kong Chinese audiences.

READ MORE: Fuelled by fashion, the Korean wave is taking the world by storm

The “subtitling gangs”, comprising Korean pop culture enthusiasts who volunteered to translate TV shows into Chinese subtitles right after shows aired on South Korean TV, were phenomenal in mainland China, Lee said. While they drew their ranks from around the region to watch the shows on unauthorised channels, she said the services available on Viu OTT would meet the needs of Hong Kong audiences.

Besides subtitling, Lee said Viu OTT also offered a sharing function on social media as well as Korean cultural information that could pop up on the screen.

“This helps close the gap on piracy,” she said. “A lot of the time people watch foreign content on illegal channels simply because they’re not available in the right channels.”

PCCW also operates pay-TV service provider Now TV and free TV station Viu TV. She said Viu OTT would focus on Korean content as well as TV shows from Japan, Taiwan and the mainland.

The platform is free of charge, but in future new features would be added to the platform and charges would apply, Lee added.

She declined to disclose the amount of investment in the new platform, but said Viu OTT would launch in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India in the next six months.