Tving to work with Line and Samsung Electronics
Tving is working with Line, and soon possibly with Samsung Electronics, to extend its reach and build its market, the streaming company said during a press conference held Monday.
Details about the agreement with Line are vague, but the company said that it will be working with the messenger app in order to bring its programming to markets outside Korea and that the two may roll out a service jointly.
Tving, which is known for shows such as “Exchange,” where participants watch their exes on dates, will be airing via Line in Japan and Taiwan by the end of next year. It aims to enter the U.S. and European markets by the end of 2023.
“We will make everyone in the world think that Tving is the place to go if they want to see some real K-content,” said Jay Yang, co-CEO.
Tving and Line are indirectly related through their corporate structures. Tving is 15.4 percent owned by Naver, while Naver owns 50 percent of A Holdings, which owns Line.
“The convergence of Line’s global business expertise and Tving’s content production capabilities” will lead to “the creation of a leading OTT platform in Asia,” said Lee Eun-jung, CEO of Line Plus.
Tving is also planning to work with Samsung Electronics and possibly with LG Electronics. From next year, smart TV models rolled out by Samsung Electronics may have a Tving link installed so customers will be able to access Tving through the set. The remote control may even include a separate set of buttons for Tving, but details are to be decided, according to Yang.
CJ ENM remains the largest shareholder of the company, with 70.5 percent, and JTBC Studios owns 14.1 percent. Line has about 200 million monthly active users globally.
Over the past year, Tving rolled out 25 originals, which attracted more paid subscribers to the app, according to Yang.
“We had a 17 percent increase in paid subscribers during the first quarter [compared to the previous quarter] after releasing ‘Girls’ High School Mystery Class’ in January this year,” said Yang. “We expect a 44 percent increase in the third quarter.”
Tving reported a 206 percent increase in aggregate subscriber numbers as of September on year. The CEO did not share the exact number, but according to WiseApp, Tving was the third biggest video streaming service, with 2.64 million subscribers as of June.
The company aims for 8 million paid subscribers in Korea by the end of 2023. If achieved, its subscriber base could be comparable to that of Netflix, currently the No. 1 streaming service in Korea, with 8.31 million subscribers. Coming in second place is Wavve, with 3.13 million subscribers.
In March, CJ ENM’s CEO Kang Ho-sung said that Tving will invest 400 billion won ($336.8 million) in its programming through 2023.
The company is planning to go public and is now selling shares privately in anticipation of the listing. The company is hoping for “visible results" regarding the IPO by the end of this year, according to Rhee Myung-han, co-CEO of Tving.
“The strongest point of Tving is that it’s run by a company that produces high-quality original content,” said Yang. “Through that content, we can attract more users, and gain a lead in the expansion of our service. And through that value chain, we hope to become the biggest OTT service in Korea.”
Tving announced the re-upping of five original series for second seasons next year: “Idol Dictation Contest,” an idol version spin-off of tvN variety show “Amazing Saturday,” “Girls’ High School Mystery Class,” “Exchange,” “Shark: The Beginning” and “Yumi’s Cells.”
Three upcoming original variety shows include “Hip-hop Medical Sitcom Emergency,” “I Want to be a Star, Although It’s the Metaverse,” and “Love Catcher in Seoul.”
Some noteworthy original drama series in line for release are “Drunk City Women,” featuring actors Lee Sun-bin, Han Seon-hwa and Jeong Eun-ji; “Happiness,” featuring actors Han Hyo-joo and Park Hyung-sik; “Happy New Year,” featuring actors Han Ji-min, Lee Dong-wook, Kang Ha-neul, Im Yoon-a, Won Jin-ah and Seo Kang-jun; “Surgeon Park,” featuring actors Lee Seo-jin and Ra Mi-ran; “The King of Pigs,” featuring actors Kim Dong-wook, Kim Sung-kyu and Chae Jung-an; “Strangeness,” featuring actors Koo Kyo-hwan and Shin Hyun-been; and “Beyond the Memory,” featuring actors Shin Ha-kyun and Han Ji-min.
Rhee singled out dating reality show “Exchange” as the company's show of the year.
“In terms of business value and the influx of new subscribers, ‘Exchange’ was an overachiever in both areas,” Rhee said. “This shows that a new kind of content and attempts that we try which are not scripted can also succeed in the OTT market as well.”
BY YOON SO-YEON AND LEE JAE-LIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]