Naver, Kakao webtoon services have big hopes for French market
Naver and Kakao’s webtoon services are facing off in France as the two companies seek to take the lead in the growing digital comics market in Europe.
Naver’s web content subsidiary Naver Webtoon will establish a webtoon company in France within the first half of this year to accelerate related businesses in Europe, the company said Monday.
Naver Webtoon is 100 percent owned by Webtoon Entertainment, a U.S. subsidiary 66.6 percent owned by Naver. The newly-made company, tentatively named Webtoon EU, will be owned by Naver Webtoon.
Naver’s webtoon service has been available in three European languages — Spanish, French and German — since 2019 and the platform can be accessed from any country in Europe. But a local company will help Naver carry out extensive businesses that go beyond providing online content, according to a company spokesperson.
“We will be able to recruit more local people and carry out partnerships with local publishers, or hold open competitions for creators,” the spokesperson said.
As the first move for the expansion, 200 new works will be added to the French platform and 100 new works in German. An open competition for French creators will also begin July. Around 1,200 authors took part in the previous competition, according to Naver Webtoon.
“The digital comics market in Europe is one with growth potential, where the number of readers grows fast,” Naver Webtoon’s CEO Kim Jun-koo said through a press release.
“With the foundation of a European company, we hope to come up with more localized strategies and expand into the European market with our expertise as the No. 1 global webtoon platform.”
In a similar move, Kakao also launched its webtoon service Piccoma in France on Thursday.
Piccoma is a webtoon service run by Kakao Piccoma, the Japanese webtoon subsidiary 75-percent owned by Kakao. Piccoma Europe was incorporated last September.
The French Piccoma service will offer Korean webtoons as well as Japanese manga that have not been released in France and will later pick up comics created by local authors and from other European countries, Kakao Piccoma said.
The two companies’ decisions to incorporate in France is because the country has the second-largest paper comics market after Japan and shows increasing demand for the digital comics genre.
The digital comics market in France has been growing by an average of 17.5 percent annually between 2014 and 2018 and will continue to do so in a world tilting toward the digital space, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca).
“The digital comic market in Europe is expected to grow along with the growing number of smartphone owners in the region,” Kocca said.
“In fact, digital content has been on the rise due to Covid-19 because as opposed to the paper book market that has been severely damaged because books must be touched and bought on the site, digital comics can be enjoyed regardless of time and space.”
BY YOON SO-YEON [email@example.com]