Streaming services up fees as Google changes payment policy
Video streaming services are raising fees for subscribers who sign up via app if the app is downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Customers who sign up directly through the websites of the services or who download the app from another source, such as One Store, will not be charged extra.
The additional fees are the result of a change in Google policy.
From April 1, apps downloaded via the Play Store will be required to use Google or third-party payment services hosted by Google Play and will no longer be able to bill using their own systems.
Those choosing to pay via the Play Store have to pay a 15-percent commission. Those using a Google-hosted third-party service must pay Google 11 percent.
Some streaming services will increase fees next month for customers accessing their services via the app if the app is downloaded from the Play Store.
Wavve, the largest local online streaming service, said Monday it will raise the subscription fee for new users by around 15 percent starting early April.
The price increase is only for apps that have been downloaded through Google's Play Store. The price paid through computers or apps downloaded from Apple's App Store or One Store will stay the same.
Fees for all existing users will remain unchanged.
"According to Google Play's policy, new payments for the Wavve Android app must implement the Google Play billing system," Wavve said in a notice to customers. "This will mean a change in the payment and refund method for subscriptions on the Android App."
Tving will raise prices for new Google users starting Thursday.
The 7,900 won ($6.46) subscription fee will increase to 9,000 won for Google users, the 10,900 won plan will go to 12,500 won and the 13,900 won plan will be 16,000 won. The new fees will only be applied to new purchases made through apps downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Seezn will raise its price in the first half of the year, but the price range and schedule have not been set yet, a company spokesperson said.
Watcha and Coupang Play have no plans for a price increase.
Google's new policy, which kicks in next month, mandates a 30-percent commission for game apps and 15 percent fee for subscription services when using Google's in-app billing system. Paying for individual content, like a movie or a book, will attract a 30-percent commission.
The rates are reduced by 4 percentage points if the app developer uses a third-party billing system. So for games and one-time content, it will be 26 percent, and for subscriptions, it will be 11 percent.
Apps cannot include a link that connects the users to another app to make a payment without commission, Google said.
Developers that do not abide by the rule will not be able to update their apps from next month, and Google will completely remove the app if no change has been made by June 1.
Local content providers say it feels unfair, but there's nothing they can do but follow by the rules.
"We haven't raised our prices yet, but there's really no other choice," said a spokesperson for a web content company who wished to remain anonymous. "It seems unlikely that Google will back down, so we'll have to see what measures the government will take."
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said it will make a statement on Google's new policy this week.
"We will make an authoritative interpretation of the telecommunications law to decide whether it's illegal or not to ban developers from guiding their users to outside the app to make payments," a KCC official said.
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]