Korean electronics giant LG has partnered with NEW ID, part of the Next Entertainment World group, to expand the Korean entertainment content available to users of its smart TV sets. Among the new offerings is YG TV, a channel launched with the YG Entertainment talent agency that is responsible for K-pop acts including Blackpink, G-Dragon, Taeyang and Winner.
The move represents an expansion of LG’s role as a provider of free ad-supported streaming television (FAST). That sounds like a throwback to linear television, but in fact is a rapidly growing business sector populated by brands including Tubi TV, Pluto TV, IMDB TV and The Roku Channel.
LG is the world’s second largest manufacturer of TV sets. It reports that the number of viewers and their time spent consuming content on LG Channels has quadrupled since last year.
From next week, the expanded Korean content service will be available on LG 2019 TVs with webOS 4.5 in select markets across Europe. Customers with LG smart TVs running older version of webOS versions will see the service before the end of the year. Those with the newest versions and owners in other countries will have the service from 2021.
“LG Channels offers premium digital content and multi-broadcast channels together with a diverse array of quality content choices available free-of-charge on LG Smart TVs in US, Canada, Europe and Latin America,” said Lee Sang-woo, senior VP of content service business at LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company.
Other Korean entertainment on offer includes muKbang TV, Mubeat (music videos and karaoke) and Billiards TV. NEW ID is one of the platform owners, where before the LG Channels platform was only powered by Xumo.
“Through this launch, you could say that NEW ID is becoming aggregator/distributor/tech-integrator all at the same time,” a NEW ID spokesman told Variety.
“We are planning to continuously expand our inventory by adding European channels and Asian channels. Other main channels are meant to expand beyond our parent company’s feature and scripted TV content and include K-Pop related performance or reality and variety shows.”
“Following the success of ‘Parasite,’ Korean films might seem to have moved past the image of being the underdog in the industry, but there still needs to be channels that can actively expose the global audience to various Korean films. We hope that our channel can address such a need,” the spokesman said.
“For a similar reason, there needs to exist channels that can showcase Korean drama, variety show, and K-pop artists in the North American and European markets. We believe FAST platforms that are emerging with the OTT market could potentially decide the next course of the Korean content distribution model.”
For more on the FAST sector see Variety Intelligence Platform.