“This will be a chance for Korean audiences to download films that are not being given the opportunity to be released at theaters and it will also serve as an important distribution channel for films in a market which is seeing one of the fastest growth rate in the IPTV field,” said Kang Myeong-ku, head of Digital Distribution, Warner Bros. Korea.
Nara Kim of Warner Bros. Korea’s Digital Distribution Team told Variety that the service will begin with Warner titles only, but that it may extend to include movies from other major companies, notably Sony.
IPTV is growing rapidly in Korea, with the three major players — KT, Olleh TV and LG U+tv – now counting over 10 million subscribers and industry watchers forecasting that they will overtake conventional cable next year.
Theatrical releasing dominates the economic cycle for movies in Korea, and the value of the online market is currently estimated to be only a quarter of the theatrical box office. But that represents a significant comeback for the ancillary market after the almost complete elimination of the DVD business in 2009.
Film buying on the part of Korean distributors at last week’s Busan film market was driven in large measure by the expansion of the ancillary market.