- SK Telecom and broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS launch Wavve OTT service
- Wavve streaming service to go-live in September
- Greater investment in original content and partnerships promised
Korean broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS with SK Telecom have been given the go ahead from its antitrust watchdog to launch a new OTT streaming service.
In a bid to take on global media giants including Netflix and Amazon, Korean mobile carrier SKT and the three broadcasters have aligned to launch the new service called Wavve, which is due to hit the market next month.
The deal was proposed in January and given the green light on Tuesday by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission.
Wavve will become a combination service from state-owned terrestrial broadcasters KBS’s Oksuku which has 10 million subscribers and MBC’s Pooq service which has 4 million subscribers with commercial broadcaster SBS.
According to SK Telecom each of the broadcasters will have 23.3% stake in Wavve, while it will hold the largest share with a 30% stake in the merged entity.
- Read more: TV is OTT
According to industry tracker WiseApp, Netflix is estimated to have 1.84 million paid active streaming subscribers in South Korea as of June 2019, compared with 630,000 users during the same period last year.
SK Telecom said it will step up investment to develop various original content in partnership with the broadcasters to fend off intensifying competition at home and make inroads abroad as well as provide immersive media services based on SK’s virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
When Wavve was first announced, its backers said that it would receive an original content budget of $8.9 million in addition to the productions supplied by the broadcasters.
Variety reported that the Korean Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has imposed conditions on the three broadcasters which would not be allow the termination or alternations to existing content supply contracts with other OTT providers without good reason.
Additionally, the three must negotiate with other OTT platforms in good faith, and on non-discriminatory terms.
It’s a timely move with the like of Disney and Apple set to launch streaming services later this year and Amazon and Netflix ramping up their original content investments.
Last month, Amazon Prime Video announced it launched a dedicated Prime Video VR app, confirming Oculus Go, Oculus Quest and Samsung Gear VR headsets now have streaming capabilities directly to the Amazon Prime Video library.
- Read more: Amazon Prime Video pivots into VR streaming
Prime members have full access to all their Prime Video and VR content, while non-Prime members can’t access VR-specific content, they can watch anything from their personal library in VR.