According to findings from Futuresource’s latest Video Insights report, eight years of Super Premium VoD continues to propel South Korea to be one of the leading transactional VoD (TVoD) markets in the world. This offering allows Korean customers to rent film titles as early as four weeks post cinema release.
With the majority of cinemas around the world closed in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, studios are now testing the opportunities in straight-to-home early digital video delivery. The Korean market remains to be a relevant global case study for many countries now looking to adopt similar learnings within the home entertainment space.
“Super Premium VoD in South Korea has allowed for early monetisation by capitalising on existing hype and marketing spend around each film,” explains Tristan Veale, Market Analyst at Futuresource. “However, throughout 2019 we saw some studios pulling out of these early windows altogether, with others reducing the number of titles offered. In light of the current global situation, this practice will see renewed interest.”
SVoD Levelling with TVoD
Despite transactional strength, the SVoD market is also set to soar, with consumer spend increasing by 61 per cent in 2019, almost equal to transactional home video. Veale provides further insight around these findings. “South Korea’s ingrained habit of subscribing monthly to access premium content, paired with the well-supported infrastructure that already exists, has created the nucleus for SVoD uptake.
“When it comes to the key players, Netflix accounts for nearly half of SVoD consumer spend and service subscriptions in the country. Its focus on acquiring local language content to develop a strong library of Korean content to build and retain a local audience, has led to this success, providing a near-continuous release of new series, movies and additional seasons, with Korean content also appealing to international territories,” says Veale.
Local Telco and Broadcaster Partnerships Fight Back
To combat Netflix’s rapid growth, major IPTV players such as Korea Telecom, SK Broadband and LG U+ are taking a variety of strategic moves to improve their SVoD offerings, either through partnerships with Netflix or local SVoD players and broadcasters.
“SK Telecom has combined its video streaming service Oksusu with mobile on-demand service Pooq, owned by three local broadcasters, to create Wavve,” adds Veale. “Wavve has a significantly advanced SVoD offering as a result of the backing of 4 major players. Established in 2019, Wavve already had a strong starting base of 14 million through its migrated pool of users from Oksusu and Pooq. While we are yet to monitor the success of this relatively-new platform over time, Wavve is set to go all-out to attract more paying subscribers, in the fight to ward off the foreign SVoD invaders and strengthen the local video streaming market.”
The Battle for Exclusivity Continues
The high demand for exclusive content means that the outlook for SVoD in South Korea remains highly optimistic. South Korea’s pay-TV operator-dominated market will continue to forge local partnerships in a bid to generate the best home-grown video service possible. Wavve will certainly be a local player to watch out for; whether the service can provide attractive content at the same pace as Netflix remains to be seen.
“In this current climate, where people are forced to spend more time indoors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we expect to see a further rise in Super Premium VoD, buoyed by international support, along with rapid uptake of the new and existing SVoD services,” comments Veale.