Despite an apparent growth in spending on digital advertising, Hong Kong’s market might have trouble sustaining the over-the-top (OTT) internet boom that is hoped to make a difference to the TV landscape. Data showed last year saw a 36 per cent increase in advertiser spending in interactive and mobile media after discounts, from HK$8 million in 2014 to last year’s HK$10.9 million, according to data compiled by media agency PHD. Ad spend on interactive and mobile accounted for 25 per cent of the total in 2015, the same percentage as ad spend on television, where 20 per cent of it went to TVB. Ray Wong, chief executive officer of PHD, said with the arrival of new players, more people were expected to switch on to TV again, but digital advertising would not be enough to sustain that many players in the internet television OTT market. “The digital world offers a lot of options and there’s always a cheaper way to reach a wide audience,” Wong said. “But Hong Kong’s market is too small to support so many OTT platforms. OTT cannot replace traditional free-to-air TV. Only OTT that is backed by a traditional offline media such as the new platform by TVB can survive.” Ricky Wong Wai-kay, boss of HKTV, said advertisers play a key role in OTT development. He said his company’s OTT content could not be sustained due to the lack of advertising and now production has been suspended. HKTV produced drama series at HK$1 million per episode. “We tried, but the ad income cannot support programmes with high production costs,” said Wong. “Subscription alone will not generate big profits.” But Wong was still placing his bets on mobile TV, which will be transmitted via spectrum, though HKTV still has not reached an agreement with the government on which transmission system to use. HKTV is still constructing its HK$450 million multimedia centre in Tseung Kwan O. “I still believe in free TV,” Wong said. In the case of the small-scale TV Most, a website that makes satirical audio-visual content poking fun at Hong Kong politics and current affairs, Ray Wong said its success in securing title sponsorship from oil giant Shell for its show TV Most 1st Guy Top Ten Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution will make a case study. Loke Kheng Tham, PCCW’s executive vice-president of pay-TV, said advertisers needed data to back up their decisions. In 2014, Now TV launched a an integrated return-path rating system to measure viewers’ behaviour across pay-TV, online and OTT platforms. She hoped a single currency measurement can be achieved across the industry. If Hong Kong’s OTT platforms want to survive, they have to look abroad. Media Partners Asia forecast showed that OTT advertising in 13 markets in Asia Pacific will grow 17.6 per cent from 2014 to 2020. PCCW’s Viu OTT, which showcases primarily Korean TV content, is also available outside of Hong Kong. It has recently been launched in Singapore.