BUSAN: Korean Execs Agree: Online Growth Needs Shared Data

South Korea has seen a dramatic increase in the number of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) subscribers in the past six years, but the lack of cooperation between the players and transparency of viewing patterns are hindering further development in the field of online-digital market for films, according to speakers at a KOFIC-organized talk Tuesday.

Giant Korean players such as KT Media Hub, CJ E&M and Daum TV were some of the organizations represented at the forum entitled, “The digital online market and changes in the Korean Film Industry.” The filmmakers viewpoint was represented by Lee Hyun-Myoung, CEO of Greenfish which produced “The Suspect,” a domestic box office success sold to 20 countries.

The panel agreed that there is a huge potential in this growing market domestically. “Looking at the model of the U.S. and considering the growth rate of the domestic IPTV market, I expect the market size will continue to grow steadily,” said Jed YeongDeog Jeong, CEO of Daum TV.

Bryan Kim, CEO of Indieplug which specializes in investment, production and distribution of indie titles, said long-tail strategy is critical in understanding the consumer pattern of online content, especially in the era of simultaneous releases. As someone representing the indie side, Kim said the IPTV market is an exciting opportunity for indie titles which theaters may be reluctant to screen.

A positive outcome in the growth of the IPTV market, according to Lee, is that investors are more open to the idea of using talented first-time directors as they consider the IPTV market as a “back up” source for revenue. “They know now that money will continue to keep coming in, long after titles are taken off the theaters. This has made them more adventurous with new directorial talent,” Lee stated.

There was tension when the discussion turned to the issue of 4K Ultra HD. Representing platform providers, Park argued that filmmakers should make the effort of providing more 4K Ultra HD content while Lee pointed out that there is considerable time and effort as well as the financing necessary for that. Im was emphatic in arguing that this may just be an industry-driven phenomenon as was the case with 3D content.

Lee expressed excitement at the changing trend in the perception of erotically-themed titles, a big source of revenue for IPTV in that they do much better compared to their run in theaters. “Renowned directors are very interested in making films with highly erotic content. Directors who have specialized in erotic films are being asked if they want to do mainstream stuff. We need to work out how this shift will affect IPTV viewing habits,” he said.

The panel expressed concern that despite Korea having the benefit of seeing recent advancements in the field of platform-related technologies, there isn’t enough cooperation between the players to make the online-digital market more vibrant and predict future market trends.

“We have data about theater revenues but there is hardly any available data shared between content and platform providers. More and more revenues are being generated from the online market but with no way of coming up with a forecast, it’s tough to persuade potential investors,” said Lee.

Park Dong Soo, senior VP at KT Media Hub, echoed this sentiment. “When we make strategies for individual titles for IPTV, we’re relying on box office figures and grade titles accordingly. There has to be more analysis of viewing patterns and purchasing rates of films shown on IPTV.”

​All present agreed on the need for more transparency and collation of data from different players so that more accurate forecasting can become possible. “There has to be a public network of data solely on IPTV. It’s no good keeping information from each other. Being open will be good for all involved,” Kim stressed.

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