In 2024, South Korea’s digital landscape continues to evolve rapidly, with Over-the-Top (OTT) services gaining significant traction. These platforms, which deliver content directly over the internet, bypass traditional media distribution channels like cable or broadcast television. Here’s a look at the six most popular OTT services in South Korea this year:
Leading the pack is the American giant, Netflix, with the highest number of subscribers in Korea. Its diverse content, available in multiple languages, makes it a favorite among South Korean viewers. As of May 2024, Netflix boasts a staggering 11,530,000 monthly active users in the country.
The platform’s success in South Korea is attributed to its extensive library that includes a wide range of international and Korean shows and movies, catering to varied tastes and preferences.
TVING, a product of a joint venture involving big corporations like CJ E&M, Naver, and JTBC, stands as the largest Korean-made OTT service. With 5,150,000 monthly active users as of May 2024, TVING is particularly popular for fans of TVN programs.
It offers an extensive collection of dramas and shows from Korean cable broadcasters, including TVN. The platform’s focus on local content, combined with high-quality production, makes it a go-to source for Korean entertainment.
TVWIKI, a streaming service, stands out in the digital entertainment landscape with its diverse content offerings. This platform specializes in providing users with a wide array of viewing choices, including the latest movies, captivating dramas, engaging anime, and popular American TV shows.
A key feature of TVWIKI is 다시보기 (replay or re-watch), which allows viewers the flexibility to revisit their favorite content at their leisure. This feature is especially beneficial for those who might have missed an episode of a beloved show or wish to re-experience a favorite movie.
TVWIKI’s commitment to a broad spectrum of genres and the convenience of re-watching shows positions it as a go-to service for a varied audience, catering to different tastes and preferences in entertainment.
This service has quickly risen in the ranks, thanks to significant investment in content acquisition and original content creation, like the revival of “SNL Korea.” It also broadcasts matches of the popular soccer team Tottenham Hotspur F.C., featuring star player Son Heung-min.
As of May 2024, Coupang Play has 4,310,000 monthly active users. Its strategy to blend entertainment with sports content gives it a unique edge in the South Korean OTT market.
A joint venture between the three terrestrial broadcasting companies in Korea (KBS, MBC, and SBS) and SK Telecom, wavve is a local OTT service with a strong user base of 3,920,000 as of May 2024. It allows viewers to watch previously aired shows, catering to those who enjoy nostalgia or missed episodes of their favorite series. wavve’s collaboration with traditional broadcasters provides it with a rich catalog of popular and classic shows.
The American OTT subscription video service owned by Disney Entertainment has made its mark in South Korea, despite recent challenges. As of May 2024, it has 1,797,157 monthly active users. Disney Plus offers a range of content from its vast international library, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic titles. However, the local division’s recent personnel reduction has temporarily halted the creation of domestic original content.
Launched in 2016 by Watcha Co., Ltd., WATCHA initially started as a Korean movie review database and recommendation service in 2012. It transitioned to an OTT service in 2020 and currently faces financial challenges while seeking acquisition opportunities.
Despite these hurdles, WATCHA has maintained a user base of 720,000 as of May 2024. Its focus on curating content based on user preferences and reviews sets it apart in the competitive OTT landscape.
Viki serves as a bridge between cultures, offering a platform for global content with a focus on community-driven subtitles. Its diverse international selection, including Korean dramas and shows from around the world, makes it a favorite among viewers seeking multicultural entertainment experiences.
Viki’s unique approach to subtitles, often created by a passionate community of fans, adds a personal touch to the viewing experience, enhancing its appeal to a global audience.
The Chinese streaming giant iQiyi has made significant inroads into the South Korean market. Known for its extensive collection of Chinese content, iQiyi also offers a variety of Korean dramas and films.
This blend of Chinese and Korean programming caters to a broad audience, making iQiyi an emerging contender in South Korea’s OTT landscape. Its strategic expansion into the Korean market signifies the growing importance of cross-cultural content in the world of digital entertainment.
Comparison of Subscription Plans
Each OTT service in South Korea offers a range of subscription plans, catering to different budgets and viewing preferences. Netflix, with its tiered pricing, provides options based on streaming quality and number of screens.
Watcha and Tving, focusing on local content, offer competitive pricing, while Wavve benefits from broadcaster collaborations. Viki and iQiyi also provide diverse subscription options, including free trials and premium memberships, making them accessible to a wide range of viewers.
User Experience and Accessibility
The user experience and accessibility of these OTT platforms vary. Netflix’s user-friendly interface and wide device compatibility set the standard. Watcha’s personalized recommendation system enhances user engagement, while Tving focuses on delivering timely content.
Wavve’s integration of traditional broadcast content appeals to a specific audience, and Viki’s community-driven approach makes it unique. iQiyi’s interface, tailored for a Chinese audience, is adapting to cater to Korean users.
Content Diversity and Originals
The content diversity and original productions on these platforms are noteworthy. Netflix leads with high-quality originals like “Kingdom.” Watcha and Tving offer unique Korean content, with Tving focusing on exclusive dramas.
Wavve benefits from its broadcaster relationships, offering a variety of shows. Viki’s international content and iQiyi’s mix of Chinese and Korean shows provide viewers with a wide range of choices, including exclusive originals that can’t be found elsewhere.
Viewer Reviews and Ratings
Viewer reviews and ratings play a crucial role in evaluating these OTT services. Netflix’s global reputation often translates into high ratings, while Watcha’s tailored content receives positive feedback. Tving’s focus on K-dramas resonates well with its audience.
Wavve’s traditional content mix appeals to a specific demographic, and Viki’s community involvement often results in high engagement. iQiyi’s growing presence in South Korea is also reflected in its user reviews, indicating its rising popularity.
In conclusion, South Korea’s OTT landscape in 2024 is diverse and vibrant. From Netflix’s global appeal to Watcha’s localized content, Tving’s K-drama focus, Wavve’s traditional programming, Viki’s multicultural approach, and iQiyi’s expansion, there is something for every viewer.
As the demand for digital content continues to grow, these platforms are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping South Korea’s entertainment industry. Exploring these popular OTT services is a must for anyone looking to experience the best in digital entertainment this year.