Hong Kong’s local streaming platform HMVOD enjoyed a 200% surge in usage following the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it plans to invest more in original content production and increase licensing of Japanese drama and animation.

Cantonese-language original content proved to be successful during the pandemic as many people turned to online entertainment while they remained at home, says Tracy Ho, HMVOD’s CEO. Among the recent standouts are online series “Hong Kong West Side Stories” which had nearly 800,000 views, and cult series “A Perfect Day for Arsenide,” which was also released on Netflix from March 1.

“We also discovered that Hong Kong audiences also like Japanese dramas in addition to Korean dramas,” Ho told Variety. “Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!,” a title in the “BL genre” (or boys’ love), was a hit for the platform. Its success boosted the platform’s confidence in acquiring more Japanese drama titles, Ho says.

Japanese animation will be another focus. Previously there were too few legitimate platforms and audiences turned to pirated streaming sites, said Ho. HMVOD is to deliver a Cantonese-dubbed version of the children’s animated series “Butt Detective” and the platform expects to use FilMart to complete negotiations for other classic animated series and acquire others.

HMVOD, founded in 2017, offers a range of local and international content, including Hollywood movies that are not available on Netflix in Hong Kong. It currently has 80,000 subscribers and the platform’s goal is to increase the number to 300,000 to 400,000 locally before expanding to overseas Chinese-speaking markets, Ho said.

The company slashed monthly subscription fees from HK$88 ($11.3) to HK$48 ($6) during the pandemic, but fees may return to their original price when the coronavirus is under control, she says. “We have built a solid following of home entertainment available in the local language. Hong Kong still has potential,” Ho said.