×

Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix.

The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS holding 40% each, and KBS the remaining 20%. The platform claims some 3.7 million subscribers. SK Broadband currently operates Oksusu, the country’s largest video streaming service, with some 9.5 million subscribers.

Netflix, which does not disclose a breakdown of subscriber numbers, is estimated to have far fewer subscribers than either Pooq or Oksusu. Also, according to app usage research service WiseApp, Android users in South Korea spend a total of 283 million minutes a month, as of September 2018, watching Netflix. Both Pooq and Oksusu users were known to have spent some 600 million minutes over the same period.

But the same data shows Netflix to be gaining share very rapidly. For 2016, Korean users watched only 20 million hours per month. And while Netflix has exhibited 20-fold growth since then, viewership of Pooq and Oksusu has only doubled. Amazon Prime Video was launched in Korea in 2016, but has had only a small impact to date.

Netflix is also competing strongly for talent and content. While the Korean platforms have rarely scored with their original content efforts, Netflix has launched successful originals including Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” feature movie, and variety shows that involved major Korean talent and their agencies.

The new platform seeks to remedy that deficit and to compete for audiences in places where Korean content is already successful. With SK’s financial might, the new platform will benefit from an original content budget of $8.9 million (KRW10 billion). It may also make use of Pooq’s business relationships in the Asian region, notably with China’s iQIYI, Hong Kong’s Viu, and Malaysia’s iflix.

At a launch ceremony, Park Jung-ho, president and CEO of SK Telecom, said the new service would be launched in Southeast Asia later this year.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content