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Foreign, local firms vie for web-based broadcasting market in Korea

All News 11:16 January 09, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's mobile carriers and foreign technology firms are vying for the nation's growing market for Internet-based broadcasting services as people spend more time on their smartphones watching TV shows and movies.

While the so-called over-the-top content (OTT) broadcasting, which delivers video and other content via the Internet, is growing, some analysts say there is a long way to go before people embrace paid Internet broadcasting services.

Following the entry by an Internet TV network Netflix into the Korean market, U.S. video streaming services YouTube Red and Amazon's Prime Video also started business in the Korean market late last year.

The nation's three mobile carriers -- SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus -- and Internet portals have offered Internet-based TV broadcasting, but only 4.7 percent of viewers subscribed to a paid service, according to data by the Korea Communications Commission.

Foreign, local firms vie for web-based broadcasting market in Korea - 1

However, the data showed that people are increasingly using their smartphones to watch TV.

In a survey by the commission of 7,385 people, unveiled late last year, 27.1 percent of the respondents said they used the OTT service.

In comparison, a 2015 survey showed that 14 percent used the OTT service.

Revenues for the Korean market for web-based broadcasting stood at 317.8 billion won (US$263.8 million) last year.

This year, the market is expected to jump 53.7 percent to 488.4 billion won, according to the commission's report.

YouTube was the most popular platform for Internet broadcasting, followed by Facebook; Naver's TV platform; AfreecaTV, a person-to-person video streaming website; and Daum's TV platform.

Paid web-based broadcasting services, run by KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus, each accounted for about 1 percent of the total market, according to the data.

To increase their subscriber bases, companies have offered free services.

CJ E&M has provided a free live-streaming service of its 153 TV channels since last Tuesday.

Pooq, a TV app that broadcasts TV dramas and shows, is also expanding the scope of its free on-demand video streaming services.

An industry observer said OTT service providers aim to increase their subscriber bases with free services, while making efforts to make profits with ad revenues.

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