Disney+ streaming service to come to Korea next year

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Disney+ streaming service to come to Korea next year

A front page of the Disney+ Korean webpage. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A front page of the Disney+ Korean webpage. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

U.S. media conglomerate Walt Disney plans to launch its video streaming service Disney+ in Korea next year, posing a direct challenge to Netflix and domestic streaming platforms.
The launch was announced at its Investor Day event last Thursday, alongside its entry into other countries including Singapore and Japan.
“The streaming service will continue its global rollout, now with Star, in new markets beginning with Singapore on Feb. 23, 2021, followed by Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea later in 2021,” the company said in a statement.
A Korean webpage is already live, although visitors can currently only sign up for Disney+ news.
Since its inception back in November 2019, Disney+ has racked up 86.8 million users around the world in markets such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
As the exclusive streaming platform for a huge number of major franchise titles from Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, Disney is looking to increase its paid subscriber base.
Korea is a stronghold for rival Netflix with its paid subscribers topping 3 million and monthly transactions at 50 billion won ($46 million) as of October, according to market tracker WiseApp.
The Los Gatos, California-based company partnered with local telecom operators KT and LG U+ to provide its services for the telecom company’s subscribers, as well as offering the regular standalone Netflix platform.
It is not yet clear how Disney+ will be made available or what the price will be in Korea.
Netflix membership starts from 9,500 won, but Disney will likely set its price in the lower range of Netflix’s fees. as is the case in other markets.
In the United States, Disney+ costs $6.99 a month but will be increased to $7.99 in March next year.
Still, the media company is confident that its number of subscribers will keep rising thanks to new TV shows exclusively available on the platform.
Disney expects its streaming service to hit 300 million to 350 million total subscriptions by 2024, as it plans to unveil 10 new Marvel series, 10 more "Star Wars" series and more than two dozen Disney and Pixar movies or series on its streaming service.
Local streaming services are also starting to make an impact on the market.
Watcha, for instance, offers TV shows from HBO — such as "Game of Thrones" — which are not on Netflix. 
Wavve, a streaming platform run by SK Telecom, has 2 million paid subscribers with a focus on content produced in Korea.
Following in the footsteps of Netflix, it is also working to produce its own original series, with a 300-billion-won commitment through 2023.
BY PARK EUN-JEE   [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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