Streaming platforms fight for market share in Korea
Streaming platform operators, homegrown and from abroad, are seeking to expand their market share in an increasingly crowded Korean market.
Netflix, which has been defending its position as the market leader since entering Korea in 2016, recently suffered a hit when its highly anticipated “Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area” was not received as well as expected by Korean viewers. To bounce back, the US-based streaming platform is strengthening its unscripted content lineup.
The company announced this month that it will launch four unscripted shows in the second half of the year -- music variety show “Take 1,” travel program “Korea No. 1,” competition program “Physical: 100” and the second season of hit dating show “Single’s Inferno.”
Industry insiders see Netflix’s new strategy of investing in entertainment shows as a way to reduce its reliance on dramas and movies that require relatively more money and time to produce. While Netflix remains on top, second place is likely to change in the second half of the year.
According to data tracker Mobile Index’s data on monthly active users of streaming platforms in June, Netflix topped the list with 11.17 million monthly active users, followed by Wavve with 4.23 million and Tving with 4.02 million.
However, a change in rankings is likely due to the creation of the largest Korea-based streaming platform this month, following the merger of KT’s Seezn and CJ ENM’s Tving. Seezn was the No. 6 player in June with 1.56 million users.
Tving, which offers CJ ENM’s tvN content, also recently diversified its content through a partnership with US-based Paramount.
While Netflix and Tving fight for the crown, Korean operator Coupang Play has become a notable player in the market by introducing content to appeal to young viewers. The platform had the fourth most monthly active users in June, with 3.73 million.
Coupang Play’s recent growth is largely attributable to the drama series “Anna.” The platform’s “SNL Korea” also has been attracting viewers. Coupang Play also differentiates itself with a focus on sports.
According to Coupang Play, it attracted a record-high number of viewers in July with its “Coupang Play Series,” which invited overseas soccer teams Tottenham Hotspur -- the English Premier League club of Korean soccer superstar Son Heung-min -- and Spain’s Sevilla.
There is another player looking to capitalize on the success of K-pop. The Walt Disney Co. Asia Pacific recently joined hands with Hybe Corp. to provide original content featuring BTS on its platform, Disney+.
Korean streaming operator Wavve, meanwhile, is focusing on introducing unique dating shows like “Merry Queer,” starring gay, lesbian and transgender couples, and “Man’s Romance,” starring single bisexual men.
With so much competition in the market, it is hard to predict which platform will attract the most viewers in the second half of the year. Some critiques predict the streamer with the best content (not always the most content) will take the win while others predict an eventual merging of the fractioned streaming platforms for two or three dominant players.
“Coupang Play has been showing progress, but it is still more of a service provided to its e-commerce platform users, so it has its limits,” Jung added. “It is more likely that the top two players will see further growth.”
Source: Song Seung-hyun, Korea Herald (July 2022)