Local OTTs gaining ground as Netflix falters

By Kim Bo-eun

Local OTTs gaining ground as Netflix falters

Local over-the-top (OTT) media service providers are stepping up their game with a greater choice of content as they seek to compete with global giants such as Netflix, and their focus on this appears to have started paying off, given their recent growth in monthly active users (MAU).

The leading local OTT player Wavve had a 3.73 million MAU base last month, the highest figure for this year and close to its record-high of 3.88 million for September 2020. Tving with the second-largest share among local players saw its MAU hit a record-high of 3.34 million last month, since its launch as an independent entity from CJ ENM in October last year. The numbers are seen as being due to the abundant new content the platforms are offering.

Local entities have also unveiled ambitious investment plants for the coming years, as they brace for competition with global players ― Disney Plus is set to launch services here in the latter half of the year. Disney is considered the strongest competitor, given the extensive array of content of its affiliates including Pixar, National Geographic and Marvel Entertainment. Wavve stated it would invest 1 trillion won into creating original content through 2025, while Tving has said it will spend 400 billion won by 2023. This is because the amount of quality content is what determines the competitiveness of OTT players. Disney suspended offering its content to local OTT service providers in April.

Netflix has begun losing monthly active users after hitting a record-high of 8.95 million in January. The figure has fallen for five consecutive months and is down to 7.91 million as of last month. Disney pulled its content from Netflix after their contract ended in 2020, which greatly reduced offerings from the latter.

Netflix is set on defending its market share, with plans for an array of original content to be released later this year. The content powerhouse has stated it will spend 550 billion won in 2021 for locally produced content.

Netflix currently takes up about 40 percent of the local OTT market; but it is yet to be seen how the launch of Disney Plus will change this structure. Globally, Disney Plus has seen rapid growth, with the number of subscribers surpassing 100 million in the 16 months since its launch in 2019.

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