SEOUL, May 11 (Korea Bizwire) – In the absence of local over-the-top content service providers in South Korea, global OTT giants including Netflix and YouTube are accelerating their efforts to invest in original South Korean entertainment content to crack open a market that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
Despite the majority of the South Korean audience still preferring free content over paid services, high-quality original content including movies and TV shows should be more than capable of persuading and attracting users who are willing to open their wallets.
Having marked its first anniversary earlier this year, Netflix is set to release its original South Korean movie Okja next month.
Okja has already received a significant deal of attention with its star-studded line-up including Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and director Bong Joon-ho, since Netflix announced a generous budget of 60 billion won ($50 million) that was pumped into the production.
The movie is making its debut at the Cannes Film Festival despite a row between Netflix and French law enforcement bodies, which traditionally prohibit movies from being shown on TV within three years of the original cinema release date.
Zombie period drama “Kingdom” is another example of original South Korean content from Netflix, written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Sung-hoon.
YouTube teamed up with YG Entertainment to cast what is arguably the biggest K-pop boy band, Big Bang, in a six-episode show, the very first project by the company outside the U.S.
The video giant is working together with Big Bang in an effort to expand its user base for the paid service YouTube Red.
Except for the first episode, which has been viewed more than 4.3 million times, the rest of the show is only available for paying subscribers of YouTube Red.
Amid growing concerns over aggressive efforts by the likes of Netflix, and a lack of interest for investment in original content among South Korean OTT players, which could lead to the long-term dominance of foreign players in the South Korean market, SK Broadband is jumping on the bandwagon of OTT content, with plans to invest 5 billion won in original content this year.
Researcher Gwak Dong-gyun at the Korea Information Society Development Institute hopes the new administration can resolve the worsening South Korea-China relations, which could prompt investment from South Korean OTT players.
“The creation of entertainment content funds is one idea, through which the government could financially support OTT service providers and return some of the profits generated back to the funds,” Gwak said.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)