Paramount+ hopes to use Korea as gateway to Asia
Paramount+ expects Korea to be a gateway to the Asian video streaming market, said Mark Specht, executive vice president, Paramount.
Paramount+ began its video streaming service in Korea through Tving, local streaming service provider, Thursday. Starting that day, Tving features a Paramount+ tab, and subscribers will have access to its content without paying any additional fees.
Korea is the video streaming service's first destination in Asia. Paramount hopes its streaming service to be available in 60 countries by end of 2022, and will start its business in India in 2023, according to Specht. Paramount is currently available in the Americas, some countries in Europe and Australia.
"Asia is the future, especially for streaming," said Specht during a press event held at Four Seasons Hotel in central Seoul, Thursday. "Korea, in particular, is the perfect place to launch our first Paramount+ plan and continue to expand our services in other Asian markets, too."
The event was also attended by Tving CEO Yang Ji-eul, Paramount Senior Vice President Catherine Park, director Lee Joon-ik, and actor Ha Ye-rin and Gong Jung-hwan who starred in Paramount+ original sci-fi series "Halo" (2022).
Amid growing skepticism over the outlook of the video streaming industry in the post-Covid era, Paramount+ and Tving are struggling to narrow the gap with Netflix. While the streaming leader is struggling with a decline in the number of subscribers, both companies are seeking for a breakthrough with market expansion and strategic partnerships.
Specht explained that Paramount formed a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with Tving and its parent company CJ ENM to penetrate the local market. The partnership includes co-production, licensing, and distribution of content, and the two streaming service companies plan to co-produce 7 originals by 2024.
Tving, 57 percent owned and controlled by CJ ENM, began its video streaming service in 2010 and spun off from CJ ENM in 2020. Tving was the second most popular video streaming service in Korea, with 3.24 million monthly active users in April, according to market tracker Wiseapp. Netflix, the frontrunner in the market, had some 11 million monthly users in the same period. Coupang Play, which ranked third, had 3.21 million, and Wavve 3.1 million.
Tving CEO Yang announced that the company also formed strategic partnerships with KT and LG U+, to keep its competitive edge amid heated competition in the market. KT and LG U+ users will be able to use the Tving service if they are subscribing to certain plans, Yang said.
"We hope to have 10 million subscribers as soon as possible, but it won't be easy on our own," Yang said, "and that's why we are teaming up with various partners such as Naver, JTBC and others."
On the grim outlook for the global video streaming industry, Yang argued that the slump will be only temporary.
"Korea's video streaming service market is in its beginning stage, so it can grow further depending on how the local players will do their business from now on," said Yang.
Tving original "Yonder," directed by Lee Joon-ik, is the first project co-financed by Tving and Paramount. It will be released in Korea, Canada, Australia, Britain France and elsewhere later this year.
"Yonder" is a drama series centering on a man who lost his wife and later finds out that she uploaded her memory into a virtual space named Yonder. This will be the first drama series, and also the first work to be released on a video streaming service by Lee, who is a renowned film director of "King and the Clown" (2005) and "Sunny" (2011).
Paramount+ original sci-fi series "Halo", as well as other Paramount content such as "Mission Impossible" series (1996-) and "Forest Gump"(1994), is available on Tving.
BY SHIN HA-NEE [email@example.com]