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Competition intensifies among Global OTT Players for Korean Contents

This year, Netflix and iQIYI have emerged as two leading forces who shopped the most Korean content. The common denominator of the two companies’ move is to strive to appeal to the global market by promoting Korean dramas and movies.

According to the OTT industry on the 22nd, Netflix spent 3331 billion won on content investment this year. This is an increase of 34.3% from 248.1 billion won last year. Considering that it started with 15 billion won in 2016, which is the first year of its entry, its size has grown more than 20 times. The global subscription growth has been mostly fueled by the popularity of Netflix’s original content produced in Korea. In its fifth year this year, Netflix is growing strong, with the number of subscribers racking up 3.3 million as of this day thanks to the hit drama like “Kingdom” that received popularity from domestic fans early last year.

Source: Netflix

Original contents that Netflix has produced and invested in this year include 5 dramas such as “My Holo Love”,''Kingdom Season 2”, “Extracurricular”, ''The School Nurse Files”, and “Sweet Home”, as well as a variety show ‘Together', and feature ‘Time to Hunt', 'The Call'. There are also 12 dramas that are bought only for international streaming rights, ranging from “Itaewon Class” to “Startup”. In addition, hit zombie movie #Alive, with other 6 movies, became the most-streamed movie in the world.

On the other hand, iQIYI, known as the “the Netflix of China,” has emerged as a dark horse in the Korean content industry. After the retaliation of THAAD (high-altitude missile defense system), though it still have restriction to release Korean content in China, but iQIYI still acquired more than 30 titles, including drama “Backstreet Rookie” and “Dinner mate”, thus promoting global appeal and targeting the Southeast Asian market,

Ji Chang-wook and Kim Yoo-jung star in 'Backstreet Rookie.' Source: iQIYI

Collaborated with A+E networks, “Backstreet Rookie” aired simultaneously around the world and topped the drama rankings in major Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.).

“The strategic focus of our company is to present pan-Asian content to an international audience,” said Kuek Yu-Chuang, vice-president of iQIYI International. “As part of such a strategy, Korean content is an important pillar in iQIYI International’s offering to our audiences.

The industry estimates that over 50 episodes have been purchased this year, including simultaneous streaming rights of MBC's “The Spy Who Loves Me” in the second half of the year. iQiyi’s expansion plan is ambitious, with an amount of over 25 billion won, it successfully secured the global streaming rights (excluding China and Korea) of the masterpiece drama “Jirisan” to be released next year.

Casts from “Jirisan” Source: Online

"Netflix is trying to become a channel to introduce Korean content to people around the world. Korean films and dramas have been received well not in only Asian countries but also all over the world," Kim Min-young, director of Korean original content at Netflix, said during a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in central Seoul.

It is obvious that both players ambitious plan to invest more to produce more movies and other entertainment content in Korea in order to capitalize on growing global demand for made-in-Korea films and dramas.