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Competition among OTT providers intensifies

Posted March. 09, 2021 07:22,   

Updated March. 09, 2021 07:22


Competition among the players of over-the-top (OTT) services in South Korea is growing ever fiercer this year. A prime example includes “Seo Bok,” a blockbuster starring Korean heartthrobs Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum, the first Korean movie to be released both in theaters and on Tving, a local OTT service company, on April 15. With the Covid-19 pandemic posing a hurdle to reaching the movie’s break-even point (3.26 million), pundits say CJ ENM, Tving’s parent company, made such a decision to strengthen the presence of its OTT service provider. With Netflix still dominating the market and Disney+ set to make a landing within this year, other players such as Tving and Apple TV+ are scrambling to secure original content.

Unveiling a new show in theaters and OTT platforms at the same time is a “two-track” strategy that the content providers in Hollywood started adopting from last year. Since Warner Bros. released its new movie “Wonder Woman 1984” in screens and HBO Max, the company’s OTT service, last year, the company recently announced it will roll out all 17 new shows simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max this year. Disney has also showcased its latest animation movie “Raya and the Last Dragon” on Disney+ and in theaters at once.

Netflix, the biggest OTT player in South Korea, is making a massive investment to cement its standing. According to Nielsen Koreanclick, the number of monthly average net users of Netflix was around 6.37 million last year, bigger than the OTT users of the two local runners-up WAVVE (3.44 million) and Tving (2.41 million) combined. This year alone, Netflix is planning to invest 550 billion won for the production of Korean original content.

“Netflix has already secured No. 1 spot in South Korea, and its investment scale is beyond comparison,” said a representative at a local movie producer. “A user typically subscribes to two or three OTT platforms, and the competition will take place over the remaining one or two spots with Netflix considered as a given.”

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com