June 12, 2024

South Korea’s subscription video market grew by more than 700,000 in the third quarter to reach more than 19 million, according to new research from research and consultancy firm Media Partners Asia.

The firm’s “Online Video in Korea” report shows that Disney+ was the fastest growing platform in the period studied, propelled by its hit Korean-produced series “Moving.” The company now has some two million subscribers in the country, though it still trails market leaders Netflix and Tving.

Netflix maintained category leadership with robust growth, capturing 29% of new subscriptions in Q3 2023 to reach 6.5 million subscriptions and 35% of premium VOD viewership. Tving (3.8 million and 26% of premium viewing) and Wavve (3.0 million and 20% of premium viewing) trail.

MPA measures viewer activity through its MPDA subsidiary, which has an embedded passive measurement system deployed across users’ TVs, VOD services and digital devices.

“Deepening engagement across Disney+ and Tving, and robust subscriber growth boosted premium VOD viewership in Korea in Q3 2023. SVOD leaders continue to grow subscribers from strong local content pipelines and an abundance of drama and variety releases; Tving’s popular reality hits tap into large network audiences such as tvN’s ‘Earth Arcade,’ while Disney+ had its first major original hit with ‘Moving.’ Tving and Netflix lead in number of exclusive local titles, and along with Wavve, captured 80% of Korea’s premium VOD viewership in Q3 2023,” said MPA managing partner Vivek Couto.

Tving and Wavve are in talks that could lead to a merger or acquisition. Observers suggest that the two companies lack scale and would aim to catch Netflix by combining forces.

MPA figures show that Tving has 20% of subscriptions in Korea, and Wavve 16%, representing a combined 36% if there were no duplication.

The merged operation could have a bigger lead in terms of viewership. MPA data shows Tving accounting for 26% of time spent watching premium video and Wavve 20%, that compares with Netflix’s 36%.

A deal is not finalized and a timetable for merger has not been announced. Nor is regulatory approval a foregone conclusion.

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