All eyes on Disney Plus launch

Disney’s main entertainment studios and film and TV libraries / Korea Times file

By Kim Bo-eun

The launch of Disney’s streaming channel in Korea is the focus of attention, as the entertainment giant’s service is quickly expanding in Asia.

Disney said last week it will launch its over-the-top (OTT) media service in Malaysia on June 1. This comes after Disney Plus was launched in Singapore in February.

Disney earlier said it would open its service in Korea within this year. The launch is expected soon, given Disney suspended offering its content including its Star Wars and Marvel series to local OTT service providers last month. The U.S. firm also set up a partnership with local content producer Studio & New in April for the latter to provide content over the next five years.

Disney is known to be in talks with network operators KT and LG Uplus for potential partnerships. Disney is seen likely to provide its content via the network operators’ internet protocol TV (IPTV) services, as Netflix is already doing here.

The launch of Disney Plus will likely challenge the local market for OTT services, where Netflix dominates, with a 40 percent share as of 2020. Among local OTT service providers, Wavve leads with a 21 percent share, followed by Tving with 14 percent.

Globally, Disney Plus has seen rapid growth, with the number of subscribers surpassing 100 million in the 16 months since its launch in 2019.

The global OTT service is set to become Netflix’s strongest rival, given the extensive scale of intellectual property it holds in content, under not only Disney, but also subsidiaries Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm and National Geographic. Disney Plus is set to provide more than 7,500 TV series and over 500 films, as well as original content.

Disney pulled out its content from Netflix after their contract ended in 2020, which has greatly reduced content for the latter. Netflix is focusing on scaling up its original content.

Meanwhile, local OTT service providers are scrambling to boost their content-producing capabilities to defend their share from the foreign giants.

Disney began launching its OTT service in November 2019, beginning in North America, and Disney Plus now has a presence in Europe, South America and Asia. In Asia, Disney Plus has been released in India, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. Besides Korea, Disney Plus is also slated to launch in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand this year.


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