TVB Prioritizes Broadcast of Hit Mainland Dramas Over Own Dramas

By on February 17, 2019 in NEWS, TV Dramas

TVB Prioritizes Broadcast of Hit Mainland Dramas Over Own Dramas

While local audiences are disappointed about not being able to catch Hong Kong dramas during prime time, Mainland productions have proven their appeal with impressive ratings.

With The Story of Yanxi Palace <皓鑭傳> making waves across Asia last year and The Legend of Haolan <皓鑭傳> debuting to popular response in Mainland China recently, TVB has confirmed that the latter will be aired during prime-time hours on its Jade channel. There have been rumors that TVB also wants to air the Mainland remake of The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre <倚天屠龍記> on April 15. With one Mainland drama being aired after another on TVB Jade, audiences who are keen to catch TVB dramas during the prime-time slot will have to wait patiently until the second half of 2019!

Period Costume Dramas Appeal to Viewers the Most

Previously, TVB has aired imported dramas during its prime-time slots as early as in the 2000s, including Kangxi Incognito Travel <康熙微服私訪記>, The Eloquent Ji Xiaolan <鐵齒銅牙紀曉嵐> and  Young Justice Bao <少年包青天>. The vibrant development of the film and television industry in Mainland China in recent years has seen standards of production rising along with viewer ratings.

As part of its strategy, TVB has also been playing imported dramas on several channels, with period dramas being the most well-received in terms of both ratings and reviews. Works such as The Empress of China <武則天>, Eternal Love <三生三世十里桃花> and The Legend of the Condor Heroes <射雕英雄傳> are some of the more popular ones. In 2015, TVB veered away from tradition when the station aired The Empress of China <武則天>, reportedly bought for a huge sum, at the 9:30 p.m. prime-time slot for seven consecutive days a week so fans would be able to chase the drama every day. Eventually, its impressive ratings – as high as 37 points – did not disappoint.

Mainland drama, Legend of the Condor Heroes <射雕英雄傳> helmed by Hong Kong director Chiang Ka-Chun (蔣家駿) aired to surprisingly good ratings in 2017, with its highest-watched episode hitting 30 points in Hong Kong. The Story of Yanxi Palace, which aired last year achieved even better results, with viewership climbing higher every episode. TVB even invited the cast to Hong Kong for publicity, and the drama averaged 31.3 points with the final episode reaching 39.2 points in Hong Kong, its popularity vindicating TVB’s decision.

Big Budget = Higher Ratings?

Out of the five dramas being aired by TVB Jade now, three are Mainland productions including The Legend of Dugu <獨孤天下>, The Story of Haolan and Ruyi’s Royal Love In the Palace <如懿傳>. While this led to many audiences expressing their wish to view Hong Kong local productions, it is undeniable that Mainland productions, which boast high production standards and bigger budgets, have an edge with their spectacular scenery, impressive outdoor shoots, and brilliant leading cast performances.

“The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre” to Air Next

There have been many renditions of the classic The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre – as many as seven television remakes alone, this latest being the eighth. Helmed by Chiang Ka-Chun, the highly anticipated production will star a new generation of actors, with male lead being played by young actor Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞), and rising female stars Yukee Chan (陳鈺琪) and Zhu Xudan (祝緒丹) to take on the classic roles of Zhao Min and Zhou Zhiruo respectively. Widely lauded as the “most beautiful Zhou Zhiruo” in an earlier drama adaptation, 52 year-old actress Kathy Chow (周海媚) will appear as Abbess Miejue, Zhiruo’s teacher in this latest production. Many viewers and fans have expressed their eagerness to catch the drama for her performance.

From a three-minute teaser of the drama released, netizens were impressed by its cinema-like production values, as well as the good-looking scenes of Yukee Chan and also Zhu Xudan, who displayed her character’s morally ambiguous traits to perfection. Many are enthusiastically looking forward to its official premiere. Though previous rumors stated that the drama will be released in Mainland China in February 13, it has yet to go online. The recent announcement of the TVB premier date in April has many fans speculating that this will be the date of the Mainland release too.

Source: HK01

This article is written by JoyceK for

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  • 9 comments to TVB Prioritizes Broadcast of Hit Mainland Dramas Over Own Dramas

    1. anon says:

      TVB doesn’t have a choice not to prioritize mainland dramas over in-house productions. Most of their productions aren’t even watchable. They are produced to fill up airtime with little care and effort.

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    2. jimmyszeto says:

      That would be the correct scenario tbh due to higher production values in the mainland. Every mainland epic with a couple of Hong Kong actors/actresses would be perfect. No more Three Kingdoms RPG cheap fake looking rubbish from TVB please…

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      • anon replied:


        They should just co-produce with Mainland studios for all, if not, most TVB dramas. It’s evident by now that they can’t produce a competitive drama on their own.

        If tvb lacks the resources then they should stop producing so many dramas in a year and focus on producing fewer but higher quality productions, but many of us know that bad habits die hard.

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        • jayne replied:

          @anon “If tvb lacks the resources then they should stop producing so many dramas in a year and focus on producing fewer but higher quality productions, but many of us know that bad habits die hard.”

          Every year, the quality of Mainland Chinese dramas gain more ground. While the quality of TVB dramas have declined because their production methods have remained stagnant for 20 years.

          As to higher quality dramas, Shaw Brothers has tried to do so through “Flying Tiger” and “Guardian Angel”. Although the budgets were higher, the dramas didn’t really break new ground in terms of plot or acting. They spent more money to hire more famous actors for cameo roles, film on nicer sets, and have more realistic props. That’s all nice eye candy, but in the end, these dramas still feel empty after watching them.

          Depending on the fees TVB has to pay to secure broadcasting rights to Mainland Chinese shows, it is probably higher profit margin for them to air big Mainland hits (charge HK advertisers more money for those spots) with higher ratings rather than spend money and resources on producing in-house dramas and then having them flop. It is low-risk, and quicker profit turnaround.

          I feel TVB is taking the direction of ATV several years ago, where TVB will pare down emphasis on its own drama productions to focus more on securing high-profile Mainland Chinese dramas to broadcast. I shuddered when Chairman Charles Chan mentioned shows like “Come Home Love” because while the ratings are steady, the sitcom is similar to past productions and really isn’t a step forward. It is just stagnant method of churning out stories. Hardly a production to put on a pedestal as “Come Home Love” is very far from being a quality show meeting international standards.

          The worst case scenario will be to drop TVB dramas altogether when the ratings are so poor and advertising revenue not ideal. TVB may just broadcast Mainland dramas altogether during prime-time, and channel budget into its news, lifestyle and variety programs (which are cheaper to produce compared to dramas). It can maintain a skeletal staff of artistes to fill these minimal in-house productions, which is what ATV did.

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        • llwy12 replied:

          @jayne Yup, agreed! Basically, TVB is becoming more and more irrelevant. One problem (out of many) is their refusal to change, especially when it comes to their policies (both written and unwritten), most of which are so antiquated, it’s not even funny. Just look at the way they manage artist contracts for example, which basically hasn’t changed in like 50 years…..most companies nowadays adjust salaries and such based on inflation, change in minimum wage, etc. but TVB doesn’t – they’ve been known to pay artists the exact same salary they had like 30 years ago, with no raise or anything, even if it’s just for “cost of living” (yes, there is such a thing as a “cost of living” raise). And to add insult to injury, TVB policies are purposely restrictive – so that same artist making the same salary he did when he started can’t take up other jobs outside to make extra money unless TVB approves it (or unless it’s a job TVB found for him because then TVB can make commission off it). In exchange for the meager salary, TVB does the only thing they know how to do best – overexpose the artist by sticking them in audiences’ faces 24/7, irregardless of whether that artist has talent or not. Those who don’t want to play by these rules or are “disobedient” in any way, shape, or form get tossed by the wayside to fend for themselves (and of course eventually leave).

          A lot of people think that most TVB artists leave because of money – yes, that’s part of it, but the most common reason why the artists leave is actually not money, but rather lack of respect and dignity. When as an artist, you have been nothing but loyal and obedient to your employer for 30 years and decide to ask for a small raise to your base pay (let’s say something to the tune of $100 a month), but the company not only refuses, they counter with a “take it or leave it” amount of $10 (or some small amount like that), implying that the artist is not worth more than that and therefore dispensable, how should we expect that artist to react? (I can tell you how I’d react – tell TVB management to go to hell and quit right there on the spot). Unfortunately, this is the reality for most artists who work for TVB, it’s just some choose to “grin and bear it” (for reasons only they know) while others choose to leave (some quietly, some not so quietly). The sad part is that when that same artist tells the media that they left their “maternal home” (TVB) because they felt they weren’t being respected, TVB management acts completely oblivious (Disrespect? How did we ever disrespect you? No clue what you’re talking about.) Then the die-hard TVB fanatics (or perhaps paid TVB trolls) step in to make that artist’s life a living hell and then of course, the artist shuts up and moves on. The cycle then repeats itself, except now with a different artist.

          Most companies embrace opportunities for improvement because they want to better themselves (and because they have to in order to stay relevant). TVB is one of those few companies that not only refuses to change, they also shun opportunities for improvement….this, my friends, is what happens when you’re in an environment where you are essentially the main player for 50 years with no competition….complacency isn’t even the word for it anymore….

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    3. gkoh says:

      A lot of TVB stars are old- keep seeing the same faces, moreover historical dramas need huge budget for props and costumes. China also have advantage of beautiful scenery and cheaper manpower

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    4. msxie0714 says:

      Mainland dramas have also attracted a wide following internationally. The latest period drama drawing raves among non-Chinese fans are Story of Minglan. Production values of most c-dramas are now far from cheesy following the high caliber set by Nirvana on Fire.

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    5. michelle2805 says:

      i missed the old tvb dramas. I still rewatch them sometimes. Nowadays, they’re dramas are crap. I haven’t watched a good tvb drama for so long 🙁 sigh.
      I also switched to watching Mainland dramas.

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    6. erictangps says:

      Look at the budget TVB pumped into The Learning Curve of Warlord, if it is not Dicky… don’t think it will pull the ratings and run to 30 episodes.

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