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KT to spend big on media productions, acquire over 1,000 original works

14:27 March 23, 2021

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- KT Corp., a major South Korean telecom operator, said Tuesday it aims to acquire more than 1,000 works of intellectual property in media content by 2023 and spend big to boost its media and video streaming business amid growing competition.

KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo said in an online briefing that the company will initially create a 10 billion won (US$8.86 million) fund to finance the production of intellectual property, adding that the company plans to create 100 original productions by 2023.

Local rival Wavve, operated by top carrier SK Telecom Co. and the country's three major broadcasters, has promised to invest 300 billion won in original content by 2023.

KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo speaks during a presentation on the company's media content business at its headquarters in central Seoul on March 23, 2021 in this photo provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

KT added that it has reorganized its media content business structure with new production subsidiary KT Studio Genie at its core, which will create titles based on original content developed by KT's webcomic unit StoryWiz.

The production company will supply the titles to other affiliates under the broader KT Group, which operates a range of media platforms from internet protocol TVs to video streaming service Seezn and holds 13 million paid media subscriptions.

KT also hinted at collaborating with Walt Disney Co., which is set to launch its flagship video streaming service Disney+ in South Korea later this year.

"We don't see Disney+ as competition," Kang Kook-hyun, KT's chief of customer business, said. "KT Studio Genie could conduct joint content investment (with Disney)."

KT's move comes after recent success in its media business, which recorded nearly 3.2 trillion won in revenue last year, growing 15 percent annually on average over the past decade.

Competition has also heated up in the local video streaming market, with focus on original content production.

U.S.-based video streaming giant Netflix Inc. announced early this year that it will spend $500 million this year on Korean films and TV series.

Netflix was the most popular paid video streaming app in South Korea by a wide margin last month with over 10 million monthly active users, followed by local rival Wavve with 3.95 million users and Tving with 2.65 million last month, while KT's Seezn had just 1.69 million, according to data tracker IGAWorks.

Apple TV+, the subscription-based streaming service of tech titan Apple, is also moving into developing Korean-language originals, although it has not yet started its service in South Korea.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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