Tving and Seezn, two major South Korean streaming services, confirmed their plans to merge, in a consolidation move which is seen as a means to counter the dominance of Netflix, currently the largest subscription video on-demand player in the country. Entertainment giant CJ ENM, which holds a majority stake in Tving, said its streaming service affiliate will absorb Seezn, run by KT Studio Genie, the media production unit of telecom operator KT Corp.
The deal has been anticipated for months, as CJ ENM and KT Studio Genie entered into a business partnership early this year. The merged platform will create the second-largest service provider in the South Korean streaming market with a combined 5.5 million subscribers, replacing Wavve, the current number two.
With about 11.2 million subscribers, Netflix clearly is the market leader in South Korea. Since its local debut in 2015, the American streamer has been dominating the market and even strengthened its foothold thanks to hit Korean-language originals such as zombie thriller “Kingdom” (2019) and the global phenomenon “Squid Game” (2021). Furthermore, it has spent some US$755 million on South Korean projects since its launch, and funneled $500 million for 2021 alone.
On the other hand, last year Tving announced plans to invest about US$3.8 billion over the ensuing five years and launch its service in foreign countries, including Japan and Taiwan, starting this year as part of its long-term strategy to grow in size. It also teamed up with Paramount+ to offer Hollywood studio’s franchise content to Tving users without extra charge.