S. Korean OTT services to merge in bid to check Netflix and foreign services

By Park Sae-jin Posted : November 30, 2023, 14:01 Updated : November 30, 2023, 17:19
Gettyimages Bank
[Gettyimages Bank]
SEOUL -- The operators of South Korean over-the-top video content streaming services -- Tving and Wavve -- have engaged in discussions over the merger of the two services in a bid to check foreign services including Netflix, the world's biggest over-the-top (OTT) service, and Disney+, operated by multinational entertainment and media company Disney.

According to South Korea's fair trade watchdog, the domestic over-the-top (OTT) service market, estimated to stand at $1.9 billion in 2022, was led by Netflix, the world's largest OTT service operator, with a market share of 38.2 percent. Wavve stood at the No. 3 spot with a market share of 14.3 percent.

While South Korean drama content such as "Squid Game," "The Glory," and "Kingdom" garnered worldwide popularity, the drama series were released through Netflix and other South Korean OTT services find it hard to capture the hearts of global audience. Meanwhile, Coupang, the South Korean counterpart of Amazon, is gaining solid OTT viewership by targeting the country's niche OTT sectors such as streaming content of live comedy shows and overseas sports events.

According to industry officials, South Korean OTT services Tving and Wavve are in talks to discuss the merger of companies. Tving is operated by CJ ENM, the entertainment wing of South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, and Wavve is operated by SK Square, the service wing of SK Group. Tving had monthly active users (MAUs) of about 5.4 million as of August 2023 while Wavve had about 4.4 million.

There were rumors about domestic OTT services joining forces to check foreign services, but industry experts say that the current negotiations are likely to bring positive results.

"Tving and Wavve are discussing cooperation from various perspectives such as forging a strategic partnership to beef up the companies' competitiveness as OTT service operators," a CJ ENM official told Aju Business Daily on condition of anonymity.

An anonymous SK Square official said: "Nothing has been fixed about the merger of the two companies but we are considering cooperation from various angles to increase our competitiveness."
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