China's LeTV inks deal with HKBN to deliver wealth of 4K and other online content to Hong Kong broadband users

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 2:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 3:04pm

Internet users who subscribe to Hong Kong Broadband Network can now enjoy 12 months' free access to TV shows, movies and other online content provided by China’s LeTV, after the two companies announced a new partnership on Thursday.

The deal connects LeTV with HKBN’s pool of subscribers, which reached 700,000 as of last October, representing about one-tenth of Hong Kong’s population. 

READ MORE: LeTV leaves Hong Kong fans confused over how to watch English Premier League games next season

All new customers and those who renew their subscription to HKBN will be granted a year's complimentary access to LeTV content, including its growing library of 4K content, as well as given a free LeTV set-top box streaming box, the companies said.

LeTV said last month it is working to become the dominant player in the city's pay-television industry within the next two years, despite stepped up competition from domestic and foreign rivals. 

One of its planned member subscription packages will give viewers in the city access to all of its programs for six months if they pay a deposit of HK$399, China Daily reported in September.

Satisfied customers can then re-up for another six months for free, while unhappy users will be able to get their deposit refunded, the state-run English-language daily reported.

But those who sign up with HKBN can potentially enjoy even better terms after this week's partnership was revealed. 

READ MORE: Chinese online video provider LeTV confident about push into electric cars

LeTV has already been spending heavily to promote its local content in Hong Kong. The company, one of China’s top entertainment portals, has reportedly been splashing out up to HK$1 million per episode on locally produced shows to drive traffic since April.

Moreover, LeTV is reportedly paying over US$400 million for the exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches in the city for three years from next season. This is the first time an internet-only company has won such rights to the world's most famous league. 

Mok Chui-tin, LeTV’s chief executive for the Asia-Pacific region, suggested during a press conference this week that the games would be available to HKBN subscribers for a competitive price.

He said the first 5,000 new customers to register for 24 months of broadband access with HKBN will get 14 months’ free access to one of LeTV’s sports packages, which will include a number of EPL games.

LeTV has already received over 1 million reservations for its set-top box in Hong Kong since it started taking orders on September 25, the company said in a statement.

The company usually charges a monthly subscription fee of HK$99 (US$12.80) for its streaming service of TV shows and movies but the latest partnership includes bundled services such a faster internet package for HK$138, which is on par with what other providers in the city offer.

Mok said both LeTV and HKBN are providing subsidies to customers. 

He also said LeTV plans to invest between HK$3 billion and HK$6 billion in the Hong Kong market over the next three years. It established its Asia-Pacific headquarters in the city in August last year.

Hong Kong has been steadily attracting internet companies from the Chinese mainland in recent years. 

Video streaming service iQiyi, which is backed by Chinese search engine giant Baidu, set up its office in Hong Kong earlier this year and struck an exclusive deal with local advertising company Pixels. 

China’s market-leading car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi, Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, which is hugely popular on the mainland but viewed with suspicion in Hong Kong, and Tencent’s music streaming app Joox have also set up operations in the city.

US streaming service Netflix said last month it will launch its service in Hong Kong in early 2016.