The South Korean streaming market is consolidating around five major players as it also emerges as a hub for premium local content.
New research by consultancy firm Media Partners Asia and its AMPD Research platform show that the country boasted 14.1 million premium video streaming subscriptions at the end of 2021 and that usage of premium platforms accounted for a growing share of total viewing time.
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“Within Korea, nearly 70% of premium video consumption is driven by Korean dramas, movies and variety shows, while U.S. series and movies capture 14%,” said Vivek Couto, MPA’s executive director. “With five major brands driving SVOD and investing heavily in local content, the entry of new tier 1 SVOD platforms is expected to be challenging unless integrated with existing players [such as Paramount’s pact with TVing] or new disruptive strategies are introduced to take market share from incumbents.”
MPA’s data showed that Netflix accounted for 33% of the 14.1 million SVOD subscriptions in Korea, ahead of Wavve with 19% and Tving with 18%. Coupang Play, which is bundled with the Coupang home shopping service, accounted for 8% and newly launched Disney+ 7%.
In terms of minutes watched during the fourth quarter of 2021, the numbers were similar: Netflix 36%, Wavve 21%, TVing 16%, Coupang Play 8% and Disney+ 2%.
Over half of consumption on Netflix is driven by Korean content, while US content captures 25%. Korea remains strategically important to Netflix. The platform is investing heavily in Korean dramas which it monetizes across the wider APAC region and globally. Netflix has announced 26 Korean titles to date for its 2022 slate.
Wavve, owned by SKT and the three major terrestrial broadcasters KBS, SBS & MBC, leverages variety, dramas and live channels from local broadcasters, Hollywood movies and series from HBO, CBS and others. Content from KBS, SBS and MBC contributes 75% to Wavve consumption, with variety shows particularly popular.
TVing features local dramas from shareholders CJ ENM and JTBC as well as a growing supply of original dramas and reality shows. TVING’s inclusion in Naver’s Plus Membership and the popularity of CJ and JTBC dramas and hit originals, is helping to drive growth.
Coupang Play offers movies, variety and drama from the U.S., U.K., and Korea, kids educational content, sports (American football, European soccer) and some originals.
Launching in November, Disney+ made a “robust debut,” according to MPA. It found strong early demand for Marvel movies and series. It has integrations with LG U+ and KT. The release of Disney’s original Korean drama “Snowdrop” in December generated significant demand and Korean content consumption is expected to grow in 2022 with the release of new original dramas such as “Grid” and “Rookie Cops.”
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