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Telcos boost video streaming services amid pandemic

All News 16:28 August 28, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three major telecom operators are strengthening video streaming services, industry officials said Friday, as online media consumption grows amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The telecom firms -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- have focused on boosting their over-the-top (OTT) media services or expanding collaborations with other popular platforms as user appetite for online media grows under the non-contact trend driven by the pandemic.

Top pay TV operator KT has updated its OTT platform Seezn by offering new services using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The company said it has started offering features such as automatically compiling scenes of users' favorite actors through AI-based facial recognition technology to target young users who prefer personalized content.

KT Corp.'s video streaming service Seezn's new services, such as compiling scenes of users' favorite actors, are shown in this image provided by the company on Aug. 27, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Yonhap)

The service will also add a live chat function so that users can communicate with one another while watching the same content.

"Online communication has become important amid the pandemic, and we expect Seezn's live chat feature to grab users' attention." KT said in a statement.

Seezn, available as a mobile app, has racked up popularity among young adults, with 63 percent of its user base in their 20s and 30s, according to KT.

KT has also partnered with U.S. streaming giant Netflix Inc. earlier this month to provide access to the service on its pay TV platform, joining LG Uplus, which first partnered with the streaming giant for a similar deal in 2018.

LG Uplus has stepped up its collaboration with Netflix by bundling the service with its 5G mobile plans.

"We expect user convenience will improve by providing Netflix under the contactless trend," LG Uplus said in a statement.

Telcos boost video streaming services amid pandemic - 2

Top mobile carrier SK Telecom has focused on its OTT platform Wavve, which has concentrated on boosting original content production.

The platform's new original sci-fi series Alice is set to air starting Friday.

Wavve, jointly launched by SK Telecom and local broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS, has promised to spend 300 billion won (US$253.4 million) on content by 2023.

SK Telecom's pay TV subsidiary SK Broadband Co. has also strengthened cooperation with Wavve, releasing a new content streaming service last month that includes original productions from Wavve.

As of May, Netflix held the most active mobile application users among OTT services in South Korea at an estimated 6.37 million in a country with a population of 51 million, according to market researcher Nielsen KoreanClick, far higher than local player Wavve at 3.46 million and Seezn at 2.36 million.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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