Disney+-challenges-Netflix-in-South-Korea
South Korean mobile operator KT has joined hands with Walt Disney Company Korea to offer content of Disney+ beginning this November. Photo courtesy of KT

Korean telecom operators to offer Disney+ to mobile customers

Disney+, the streaming service of the U.S. entertainment powerhouse, attempts to challenge the dominance of Netflix in South Korea together with the country’s telecom operators.

KT, South Korea’s second-largest mobile carrier, announced on Oct. 13 that it had forged a content partnership with Walt Disney Company Korea.

Under the contract, KT will enable its customers to watch the content of Disney+, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.

Also included in the lineup are Disney’s original TV shows and movies like “Loki.”

As of the end of this June, Netflix was the global leader in the streaming industry, with a global subscriber base of 20.9 million. Disney+ attracted 11.6 million in just two years after its launch.

“We signed a contract on mobile content with Disney. And negotiations are underway for Internet-protocol TV (IPTV) services,” KT spokesman Choi Bo-won told Korea News Plus.

Late last month, LG Uplus agreed to offer Disney+ content to its IPTV users.

Earlier in August, Walter Disney Company Korea noted that it would launch Disney+ here on Nov. 12, with a monthly subscription fee of 9.900 won ($8.5).

This compares to the lowest monthly price of Netflix at 9,500 won ($8.2). The U.S. streaming service has ruled the Korean market over the past few years.

As of the first half of this year, Netflix maintained 7.9 million monthly active users in South Korea, according to the country’s market tracker Nielsen Koreanclick.

The country’s homegrown streaming platform, dubbed Wavve, had 3.9 million users.

As Korea’s top mobile operator SK Telecom supports Wavve, the company is highly unlikely to team up with Disney+.

“The partnership with Disney+ is expected to spur the growth of domestic telecom operators. The growth potential can be achieved over the long term,” Mirae Asset Securities analyst Lee Hak-moo said.

Hyundai Motor Investment & Securities researcher Kim Hyun-yong noted that the two-way competition between Disney+ and Netflix will expand the market size of the Korean over-the-top streaming services.

Currently, Koreas OTT market is valued at around $1 billion. The rivalry between Disney+ and Netflix will substantially boost it. The OTT service penetration ratio will also rise from the current level of some 40 percent, he expected.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.