PCCW’s Hong Kong-based free-to-air channel ViuTV saw a 29% increase in advertising revenue in 2020 despite a gloomy times and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The channel is now looking at boosting its visibility outside of the territory, as it celebrates its fifth anniversary in April.

Success of variety shows such as three seasons of talent competition program “King Maker,” inspired by CJ E&M’s hit series “Produce 101” in South Korea, has helped it scout and groom a clutch of young idols. Their surging popularity has led to a new form of advertising partnership that has the potential to expand further in a fragmented audience market, said ViuTV’s GM Lo Lofai.

“We are eyeing further promoting our talents and forming long-term partnerships with advertisers,” Lo told Variety.

The past year was challenging but pandemic social distancing measures translated into an audience gain, Lo said. ViuTV currently has a 4 million audience reach in Hong Kong, but the fragmented media landscape meant that traditional advertising models no longer applied, he said. (Hong Kong’s traditional free-to-air market leader TVB had a miserable 2020 with a 70% plunge in advertising dragging the group into steep loss.)

Besides selling air-time ads, cross-media advertising plans that are tied in with the ViuTV’s popular young idols have become increasingly crucial, according to Lo. The TV station concluded the difficult year with a 22% increase in revenue. ViuTV will continue to produce variety shows including the fourth season of “King Maker” and drama titles this year to further promote its talents, he said.

Strengthening partnerships with platforms outside of Hong Kong will be another priority for ViuTV, Lo said. Currently some of the ViuTV productions are available on Astro in Malaysia, Mediacorp in Singapore, PCCW’s regional streaming platform Viu, Line TV, KKTV and Gala TV in Taiwan, Fairchild in Canada, KTSF in the U.S. as well as TV Asahi and CBC in Japan.

The station has also co-produced drama series with platforms from outside of Hong Kong. Romantic youth drama “Sometimes When We Touch,” co-produced with Taiwan’s Gala TV, is scheduled for release in August.

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