Kakao TV launches this month, takes on Netflix
Kakao M, which produces music, films and videos, is entering the highly competitive over-the-top (OTT) streaming business by launching Kakao TV this month.
Kakao acquired LOEN Entertainment in 2018 and renamed it Kakao M.
Kakao TV, which can be accessed via the Kakao TV app or within KakaoTalk under the "#" tab, reached 3.07 million subscribers and accumulated views of 30 million as of Sept. 21, just three weeks after its launch.
Kakao TV has released three web drama series and 10 television shows. It plans to produce six dramas and 19 entertainment shows by the end of the year and more than 240 original series in three years.
The second episode of “Face ID,” which revealed why Lee quit Instagram, was a hit with 5.2 million views.
Although the horizontal format suits existing TVs and screens, the majority of the programs from Kakao TV are produced in the vertical format.
Producer Kwon Hae-bom, familiar to the public as "Mormot PD" on MBC's "My Little Television" (2015-2017), and veteran comedian Lee Kyung-kyu produced the first episode of "ZZIN Kyung-kyu" in a horizontal format, but changed to vertical with the second episode after getting feedback from viewers. They preferred the vertical format.
"Last year, Lee Kyung-kyu and I came up with an idea that it would be fun to have a program where a comedian and a producer appear together in a show," Oh said. "Although it may be too much for an 80-minute TV program, I thought it would be worth a try for episodes that run about 10 minutes."
"Kakao TV Morning," produced by veterans Park Jin-kyung, Kwon Sung-min and Moon Sang-don, offers five different segments depending on the day of the week, ranging from comedian Kim Gu-ra's "New Pang" on Mondays to singer-songwriter Yoo Hee-yeol's "Night Walking Night" on Fridays. “New Pang” updates the news for viewers and “Night Walking Night” shows Yoo taking a walk at night while enjoying the view. On Tuesday’s "Shall we KKTalk?" lyricist Kim Ea-na sits face-to-face with guests and conducts an interview using KakaoTalk.
Another feature of Kakao TV is how the content is connected to other parts of the Kakao empire, such as Kakao Friends, which manages KakaoTalk emoticons, and the mobile content platform KakaoPage. For instance, Kakao TV’s survival entertainment show, "My Dream is Ryan," will choose the No. 1 mascot among some forgotten mascots in Korea — including the 1993 Daejeon World Expo’s mascot Kumdori and the Korea Handball Federation’s mascot Conpaka. They will all be released as KakaoTalk emojis.
The two drama series Kakao TV has already released are “Amanza,” the story of a 27-year-old man who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and “Love Revolution,” a love story of a teenage couple.
Kakao TV’s target audience is between the ages of 15 and 49, with a concentration on women between the ages of 15 and 34.
"Not just in a certain age group but in every generation, we see that the smartphone is becoming the No. 1 medium," Shin said. "Existing media such as TV may satisfy people in their 50s or above, but that is not the case for the MZ [Millennial-Generation Z] generation. That’s why we are especially targeting the MZ generation."
In the case of the web drama series "Love Revolution," which stars a former member of the boy band Wanna One, Park Ji-hoon, the majority of early viewers were his teenage fans. But as word of mouth spread, women in their 30s and 40s started to watch.
"We will leave all possibilities open and try various things under the basic premise of providing entertaining content," Oh said. "It would be fun to create R-rated content under the brand Kakao TV Black or Kakao TV Red, which would require age verification.”
Since its launch in November 2018, Kakao TV has acquired four record labels, seven management agencies, four drama production companies, two film production companies and casting agencies.
"We tried to figure out how to make content that can suit the audience, which wants fast-paced storytelling," Oh said. "It's easy to think of producing an 80-minute episode and splitting it into four segments. But it's harder to fit in an intro, development, plot turns and a conclusion in 15 minutes because that requires faster storytelling."
"The 2-hour running time of a movie takes into account the number of times theaters can run films. The 16 episodes of a 60-minute drama series depends on external factors such as selling advertisements. Kakao TV is free from all of those kinds of external factors, which allows us to produce however we want — whether it’s a series with 10 or 30 episodes, and whether they're 10 or 30 minutes long," Shin said.
"Although we are currently running in-house production, we are considering establishing a separate subsidiary or acquiring an external production company in the future," Shin said. "Pixar and Netflix are our role models, which show an ideal combination of technology, business and creativity."
BY MIN KYUNG-WON, KIM YEON-AH [email@example.com]