Korea’s SK Telecom, three broadcasters to launch streaming service

South Korean regulators have approved plans by SK Telecom and three broadcasters to jointly launch a streaming service to compete with global players such as Netflix. 

Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said it has approved the proposed merger of SK Telecom’s existing video streaming app Oksusu and Pooq, a service launched jointly by terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS. The new service, Wavve, will launch next month (September 2019). 

When the merger is completed, SK Telecom will become the largest shareholder in Wavve with a 30% stake, while the three broadcasters will each hold stakes of 23.3%. 

Oksusu currently has 10 million subscribers, while Pooq has around 4 million. The merged entity is expected to have a larger subscriber base than local competitors LG U+Mobile TV and Korea Telecom’s Olleh TV. 

Netflix had 1.84 million Korean subscribers as of June 2019, according to industry tracker WiseApp, compared to 630,000 during the same period a year earlier. The global streamer is regarded as a threat due to its rapid subscriber growth and heavy investment into Korean-language programming.