TVB Tackles Mainland China Market Through Joint Venture

TVB is currently in discussion with Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group (SMEG) to form TVBC, a new joint venture to tackle the lucrative mainland Chinese market.

TVBC’s mission is to collaborate on marketing and advertisements, dramas, documentaries, and above all, support TVB artists in developing and planning their projects in mainland China. Virginia Lok (樂易玲) will handle the planning of the venture.

The Road to the Mainland Market

One step at a time, TVB has been methodically grabbing larger pieces of the lucrative mainland market. In the 1980s, classic Jin Yong (金庸) adaptations, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils <天龍八部> and Return of the Condor Heroes <神鵰俠侶> were well received in China, which made TVB dramas a favorite among audiences.

With the Hong Kong handover in 1997, the cultures of mainland China and Hong Kong were set to merge at a quicker pace. Believing that a vast market was opening quickly, TVB began to actively seek ways into the Chinese market. The two satellite channels, TVB8 and TVB Xing He were the first steps in targeting the mainland market.

Around 2004, under an amendment in the Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, TVB began collaborating with Chinese TV stations to produce shows for the mainland market. Dramas conceived from these collaborations included Sigh of His Highness <一生為奴> and Big Family <大宅門>. However, with its Shanghai partner failing to pay TVB the agreed royalty amounts, the collaboration ended with a lawsuit. Meanwhile, another project stemmed from a joint venture between TVB and China Central Television (CCTV) and  resulted in the high-profile series, The Drive of Life <歲月風雲>.

Around the same time, Hunan TV was actively seeking to partner with TVB. War and Beauty <金枝欲孽>, was aired on Hunan TV during prime time, and was a major hit. TVB immediately proposed to work with Hunan TV on entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing <舞動奇跡>, which an array of TVB and mainland artists competed for the best dancing couple award. The show was a big hit, and it lasted for three seasons. It gave TVB a venue to show off its artists to mainland viewers.

TVB has also been working with SMEG recently on variety shows including  Chinese Big Variety <華人大綜藝>, a show that was broadcast simultaneously in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. TVB also received broadcasting rights to mainland reality shows such as China Got Talent <中國達人秀> and The Return of the King <王者歸來>.

TVB Artists Head North

In the early 1990s, sensing a growing market, several TVB artists decided to take their chance with the mainland market. Adam Cheng (鄭少秋) was one of the first TVB artists to test the water, appearing in Chronicles of Emperor Qianlong <戲說乾隆>, and of course, mainland viewers loved Adam. After that, Damian Lau (劉松仁), Ray Lui (呂良偉), Benny Chan (陳浩明), and Dicky Cheung (張衛健) consistently appeared in mainland dramas.

Many TVB artists not only enjoyed fame and fortune, they also found the loves of their lives as well and now call China their homes. Ada Choi (蔡少芬) is one that comes to mind.  Still working for TVB once in a while, Ada has become extremely popular in China.  While his career in China has not been smooth sailing, Gallen Lo (羅嘉良) met and settled with his current wife, Sophie Su (蘇岩), in Beijing.

TV King, Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎), is one of the most popular TVB artists in mainland, after appearing in Bu Bu Jing Xin <步步驚心>. Artists that headlining mainland series also include Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Myolie Wu (胡杏兒), Bosco Wong (黃宗澤),  Ron Ng (吳卓羲), and Raymond Lam (林峰). Kenneth Ma (馬國明) also expressed his desire to film TV dramas in China, although he had to decline offers due to his busy TVB filming schedule.

However, not all stories were rosy. Many series from mainland TV were so mediocre that they failed to help promote the artist’s popularity at all. For example, Bobby Au Yeung (歐陽震華) is still waiting for his break in China. Many in China only remember Gallen Lo as TVB’s Best Actor and his Hong Kong series such as Cold Blood Warm Heart <天地男兒>, Secret Of The Heart <天地豪情>, and At the Threshold of An Era <創世紀>.

When TVB artists headed north to work in China, many thought they were doing it due to internal politics, or because they were abused and underpaid, or because they were not given the chances they deserved. Virginia Lok said none of this is true, as TVB normally takes care of any contract issues and filming schedules.

“We have big plans for China. I am hoping more of our artists will look into projects in China because the market is a lot bigger. Since there are different scripts and casts, they may improve their acting skills,” Virginia Lok said.

The new joint venture, TVBC, will help artists select mainland series or movie projects and the right companies to work with. Since there are also a prevalent number of unethical production companies in China, the formation of TVBC will assist TVB artists in pre-screening companies and minimize risks while filming in mainland.


This article is written by Lance for

Related Articles


  1. Mainland China is really a big market for TVB artistes to make good money.

  2. Think TVB will get a “Cut” for “Helping” the artists?

    1. yeah, better for the actors to venture china market on their own

      1. i also think so,tvb is doing this for his own benefit and want to get more control on their stars,since they loose them one by one to the mainland market.
        but a smart strategic move in view of the tv war next year.

  3. this woman does not look good in front of the camera, since she’s in the entertainment field, she should make more effort to present herself better

    1. She is already 50 and yet she isn’t actress, making money for TVB is her main target

  4. So TVB will provide SMEG with cheap labour while TVB in return will gain market share in mainland and most importantly a bargaining chip in order to get its artists renew their slave contracts.

    According to Rikcy Wong one of the main reason why mainland choose to use HK artists is bc they are cheap to use. I find plausible bc it certainly can’t be their superior acting skills or looks.

  5. that’s why tvb boss and management should be kicked out of the entertainment line in hongkong, monopoly spoilt them

  6. I’ve never seen a more irk-some face than hers, she’s just full of glee to rent out TVBs artists as slaves, using their sweat to mop up dollar signs from the Mainland. Anything they let this woman be in charge up will soon turn into a sleazefest of scandals and nepotistism. Let me guess, she will give all the great deals to her fav artists, while some wont see any increase in income. While the hard jobs, she will give to ppl she doesn’t like much.

    She(Virginia Lok) used to work as a Cat III executive producer. She knows how to use and abuse. Sell sex and take advantage of others.

    1. she’s bad, don’t like people like her, a trouble maker and materialistic, good thing she’s not beautiful, can’t imagine what will happen if she slept with the boss, more evil power..

    2. I heard that Virginia Lok was very active promoting CAT III films backing early 1990s. Ohh! She’s a disgusting and really sick woman!

  7. Personally I didn’t really like any of the tvb drama series filmed with mainland china artists. They were really long and boring. Hope TVB don’t change the way they film just to meet China’s strict broadcasting rules.

    1. I personally often find cross-country or cross-region TV collaborations to be quite awkward. It’s like both TV stations have to compromise on their usual production/scripting styles and the artistes they use, and the product turns out neither here nor there.

  8. Good news for many artistes if you ask me. People like Kevin and Charmaine might not need TVB’s help to enter the mainland market but a lot of second line artistes will benefit. There’s not enough roles in HK alone for all those second line actors who have acted for 20+ years. They are not popular enough to find work in China on their own but now they may get more acting jobs. Just hope TVB does not start broadcasting mainland dramas. Ever liked their shows. Long and boring if you ask me.

  9. “Many in China only remember Gallen Lo as TVB’s Best Actor and his Hong Kong series such as Cold Blood Warm Heart , Secret Of The Heart ,”

    I don’t believe this. Lance, you are so wrong. Gallen Lo is now so famous in mainland, and he did it on mainland dramas, not so 90s TVB series. That only gave him a good start there.

    And “Many series from mainland TV were so mediocre that they failed to help promote the artist’s popularity at all. ”

    Excuse me, gimme a break.
    Mainland series have so good cinematography, lighting work, background scenes, props, and the people look so beautiful, even making those TVB stars who are old and hagged, look presentable,.. only their scripts are not fast paced enough and unexciting.

    HK can contribute content, but mainland can teach you a thing or two about proper drama quality.

    Can see nostril hairs many times on beautiful actress and actors on TVB series, bad angle and bad lighting. Urggh!

      1. Yes, only people in HK likes those lower quality HK series, and you have so few choices, in fact no choice, TVB, TVB and more TVB.

        HK people are so easy to please, so easily satisfied…

  10. Bring back ‘Strictly come dancing’ please. I luv that show.

    1. Wow. That’s a crappy show. Mainlanders are so easy to please…

      Just look at their number one movie… Lost in Thailand! WTF?

  11. It’s funny how HK people make fun/look down on china yet they have no problem going there to make money.

  12. I’m not a fortune teller but this woman looks like she would sell her own mother for money.

Comments are closed.