(ATTN: ADDS more info in 7-9, 14-15 paras)
By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's largest over-the-top (OTT) service will officially become available later this week as it bids to take on global media giants such as Netflix, Inc., a joint venture providing the service said Monday.
The new platform, dubbed "Wavve," will go online on Wednesday, with an aim of accruing 5 million paid subscribers and annual sales of 500 billion won (US$422 million) by 2023, according to Content Wavve Corp.
The launch comes after the country's antitrust watchdog in August approved the merger of mobile carrier SK Telecom Co.'s video streaming app Oksusu and Pooq, a joint video-on-demand platform of three terrestrial broadcasters -- KBS, MBC and SBS.
Content Wavve said it will invest 300 billion won by 2023 to produce original content -- a first for a local OTT service provider.
"Wavve will have a competitive edge by investing in original content and taking on global businesses," CEO Lee Tae-hyun told reporters.
Wavve will offer three streaming plans -- Basic, Standard, and Premium -- costing 7,900 won(US$6.7) to 13,900 won per month, the company said. The Standard and Premium plans will allow users to watch on two screens at a time.
Paid subscribers of Wavve will be able to enjoy a total of some 1,000 titles, including movies and drama series, from both home and abroad, the company said.
Wavve will also exclusively offer three TV drama series from the Unites States -- "Manifesto," "Siren" and "The First" -- for local viewers.
Virtual Reality (VR) content and pro baseball games using SK Telecom's 5G technology will also be available on Wavve, according to the company.
The new platform comes on the heels of rising challenges from global media giants like YouTube and Netflix, which have rapidly expanded their clout in the local online streaming market.
Netflix, which currently has nearly 150 million paid subscribers globally, has recently produced more original programs in languages other than English as part of efforts to target audiences around the world.
"Kingdom," Netflix's first original Korean drama, was released in January and has been credited with bringing in more local subscribers.
Netflix is estimated to have had 1.86 million paid active streaming subscribers in South Korea in July, compared with 420,000 users during the same period a year earlier, according to data by Nielsen Korea.
Netflix currently offers three subscription plans, with the basic plan priced at $9 per month and the premium plan priced at $16 per month.
Netflix spent $8 billion on producing original TV series and movies in 2018, some of which won prestigious awards. Netflix also offers interactive content, such as games, on the platform.
KBS's Oksuku has 10 million subscribers, and Pooq has 4 million subscribers.
SK Telecom will become the largest shareholder, with a 30 percent stake, while each of the broadcasters will have 23.3 percent stakes, according to the carrier.
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