Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Content Providers vs. Platform Providers in Korea's "Media Big Bang"

As noted in an earlier post and widely covered in the press, many in South Korea are expecting a "Media Big Bang" after the recent awarding of broadcasting rights to new business entities.  Much of the focus in discussions of the "Big Bang" prospect has been on the nation's large newspaper groups and terrestrial broadcasters.  However, as noted by an interesting article in The Korea Times, the recent legal changes and new licenses may herald a new era in which content providers, such as the CJ Group (click on the graphic to see full-size version), may be the big winners, rather than the platform providers (newspaper and television groups) that have dominated in the past.  The article notes the increasing number of outlets or channels for content, with the rise of the smartphone, tablets and the continued convergence of digital media.  The increasing number of channels or "platforms," the argument goes, will only increase the demand for content.  Along with these developments, there has been a notable increase in the viewership of pay television in Korea.  Currently, more than 80 percent of Korean households subscribe to some form of pay-television service. And pay-television’s overall share in viewership rose from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 41.1 percent last year.
According to industry observers, for the four new comprehensive television channels to survive, each must secure advertising revenue of about 500 billion won per year.   As the article notes, this is the real question, especially in an export-dependent economy.

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