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Netflix users dip in S. Korea amid growing competition

It 09:16 May 20, 2021

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- Monthly active users of the U.S. video streaming service Netflix Inc. in South Korea recorded a decline in the past three months, data showed Thursday, as the platform faces a slowdown in global subscriber growth and increasing competition from local players.

Netflix's monthly active users in the country last month stood at 8.08 million, down 1.9 percent from 8.24 million in March, according to the data from market researcher Nielsen Koreanclick.

The latest figure marks a dip since the platform peaked in South Korea with nearly 9 million monthly active users in January.

Monthly active users refer to unique users who interact with an app at least once a month. In comparison, Netflix has said its paid memberships in South Korea reached 3.8 million as of the end of last year.

Netflix Inc.'s logo is shown in this undated file image provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Netflix Inc.'s logo is shown in this undated file image provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The latest data comes amid disappointing growth in the U.S. platform's subscriber numbers in the first quarter of this year after a stellar performance in 2020.

Last month, Netflix said in its earnings report that it ended the January-March period this year with 208 million global paid memberships, up 14 percent on-year but missing its forecast of 210 million.

The company cited its faster-than-expected growth the previous year and a lack of content due to delays in production from the impact of the pandemic for the lackluster growth.

The video streaming giant underwent rapid growth throughout last year as the pandemic fueled demand for stay-at-home activities. Netflix's number of monthly active users in South Korea in May last year reached 6.37 million, more than doubling from 2.52 million a year ago.

Meanwhile, South Korea's video streaming market has heated up this year as local players ramp up investment in content to compete with Netflix.

No. 2 player Wavve -- owned by the country's top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. and three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS -- said in March that it will invest 1 trillion won (US$882.5 million) in content by 2025.

Wavve had nearly 3.7 million monthly active users in April, similar to its 3.71 million users in January.

Smaller local rival Tving had 2.93 million monthly active users in April, slightly down from 3.12 million users in January.

Netflix is also seeking to boost its presence in South Korea and has promised to invest $500 million in original Korean content this year alone.

The U.S. platform still faces more competition, with Disney+, the flagship streaming service of U.S. media giant Walt Disney Co., set to launch in the local market sometime this year.


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