SINGAPORE – Global streaming video giant, Netflix is in talks to co-produce local Korean content with iHQ, the production subsidiary of Korean pay-TV provider D’Live.
“Korean people are very dedicated to local content,” said Jeon Yong-ju, CEO of D’Live and iHQ. “Netflix is interested in investing in Korean content, therefore D’Live’s and Netflix’s visions are in sync. Korean content needs to compete with global content.”
Jeon was delivering a keynote at the Asia Television Forum & Market in Singapore on Tuesday. In May, Netflix partnered with D’Live to provide its content in Korea via D’Live’s set top box, choosing the smaller player over larger platforms like SK Broadband and LG UPlus.
D’Live started small, with distribution of 10,000 set top boxes in 2016, but it has aggressive plans for 2017. “We are aiming for 300-500,000 boxes in 2017,” Jeon said.
In 2017 D’Live is also launching an all-in-one 1Gb OTT set top box that will deliver 4K content, and an app tentatively titled D’Live K-Wave OTT, that will feature content from D’Live’s roster of K-Wave talent.
It wasn’t always sweetness and light for the company. 2015 saw the company, then called C&M, fail to stave off competition from IPTV providers and a consequent subscriber base erosion from 2.7 million to 2.3 million. “We underestimated the competition,” Jeon said.
Jeon was hired as CEO in April 2016 and his first step was to rebrand C&M as D’Live. The next stage was refinancing. In May, prior to the Netflix partnership, the company was on the brink of going into creditor management. Things have looked up since then. “We have successfully refinanced for the next three years with local financial institutions,” Jeon said.
The next step for 2017 is to expand in Asia, beginning with Singapore. “We’d like to be the gateway to global content providers,” Jeon said.