Star Chinese Movies was launched in Taiwan in 1994 by regional pay-TV pioneer Satellite Television Asian Region (Star Television), which only a couple of years earlier had been bought by News Corp. from Hong Kong telecom giant PCCW.
The choice of Taiwan reflected the territory’s position as the then-most important cable TV market in the East Asian region. Though Taiwan is no longer the key target for most pan-Asian broadcasters, it still remains significant for SCM.
As was also typical of the time, the net launched (as Star Movies) with a blend of Hollywood and Asian content.
Part of News Corp.’s thinking at the time of the Star acquisition was that it would be able to roll out similar channels worldwide.
Localization soon became a priority and in 1996 Star Movies split in two, with Star Movies showing 100% Western content and the new Star Chinese Movies focused entirely on Chinese-language content, essentially Hong Kong titles.
SCM today has two brands (SCM Legend is not available in Taiwan) and five different feeds for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand) and international (U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand) that operate in 11 markets.
As with nearly all channels that are not of Chinese origin, SCM is not permitted in mainland China. A move to expand SCM into South Korea is likely to take place in late 2014 or early 2015.
They are all managed from Hong Kong, where 21st Century Fox’s Fox Intl. Channels has its Asian headquarters.
These days, SCM has output deals with three Hong Kong production houses: Media Asia, Emperor Motion Pictures and Raymond Wong’s Pegasus Motion Pictures. It has none with mainland producers, even the half-dozen large companies that are emerging as China’s major production studios.
“SCM is only premium Chinese movie channel with all the bells and whistles — HD offerings, set-top boxes, and a digital player like a full studio-backed movie channel,” says Yim.
Its catch-up service, which operates online and on Android and IOS devices is branded as SCM Play.
“We tend to benchmark ourselves against HBO and FIC’s Fox Movies Premium,” says Yim.