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Streaming subscription growth in South Korea slows dramatically

As the effects of the pandemic began to wane in South Korea in the first quarter of 2021, growth in streaming video subscriptions slowed sharply, a new report from regional research firm Media Partners Asia shows. New subscriptions across all streaming platforms totaled just 600,000, down from 1.7 million net sub adds in the fourth quarter of 2021. The country ended March 2020 with an estimated total of 14.7 million paid SVOD subscriptions.

The swift deceleration of growth in South Korea — mirroring some streaming platforms’ recent struggles in the major markets of the West — could add to recent investor concerns over the fundamentals of the director-to-consumer model, particularly given Korean content’s growing role in driving video consumption globally.

“At nearly 15 mil. paid SVOD subscriptions and 5 major brands investing heavily in local content, the Korean SVOD industry remains healthy and competitive, though growth slowed considerably in Q1,” said Media Partners Asia’s executive director, Vivek Couto, in a comment on the report’s findings. “In a post-pandemic environment, Korean consumers were drawn to linear television in Q1 to catch major events like the Winter Olympics in February and coverage of a close Korean Presidential Election in March. Consumers also returned to theaters in late-Q1 to Q2, contributing to a slower quarter for SVOD.”

The report found that Korea’s SVOD leaders Netflix, Wavve, Tving, Coupang Play and Disney+ largely maintained category share in Q1 2022, representing an aggregate 86 percent of SVOD subscriptions and 83 percent of premium video consumption.

“Netflix, Wavve, Tving and Disney each had notable local original hits in Q1, while Coupang Play leveraged key local and American football matches,” added Couto.

MPA’s data found that locally produced Korean content continues to dominate the market, with Korean TV dramas accounting for 48 percent of total consumption, Korean variety and reality shows taking 23 percent and Korean movies holding 4 percent. U.S. series trailed with just 8 percent of viewership while U.S. films squeaked out 5 percent and Japanese anime claimed 3 percent. The Hollywood Reporter

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