The Korea Herald


Disney+ likely to be introduced via LG U+ first and possibly KT later

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Sept. 19, 2021 - 00:00

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Disney+ logo (Walt Disney) Disney+ logo (Walt Disney)

Disney+, the US entertainment giant’s streaming service, is expected to land in Korea via LG U+ first, the smallest of the country’s three IPTV providers. Then, it may team up with KT, the largest of the three, to further expand its reach.

Earlier, Disney officially announced the Nov. 12 launch of Disney+, with a monthly subscription fee of 9,900 won ($8.40).

It, however, did not disclose who its local partner is, fanning market speculation that the two Korean telecommunications firms may be competing with each other to bring Disney+, known for its family-oriented content, on their respective IPTV platforms.

On Wednesday, LG U+ CEO Hwang Hyeon-sik said the company is “in the final stage of negotiation” with Disney.

Market observers said the company may have had a competitive advantage over its telecommunications rival KT as most of its IPTV set-top boxes come with an Android operating system that easily supports Disney+.

Currently, around 97 percent of LG U+ set-top boxes are Android-based. In 2017, LG U+ started to introduce Android-based set-top boxes for its streaming service here, earlier than other telecommunications firms that began introducing them by the end of 2018.

Only around 30 percent of KT’s IPTV set-top boxes are currently based on Android OS.

The same day, KT Chief Executive Ku Hyeon-mo said: “(KT) will eventually sign a partnership with Disney.”

Ku, however, noted that the introduction of Disney+ content on KT’s platform can “take some time.” He said the company will have to replace its existing set-top boxes to compatible ones before signing a partnership with Disney.

When introduced, Disney+, which distributes numerous films and TV series that other platforms do not offer, is expected to intensify competition in the local paid video streaming market currently dominated by Netflix, according to industry sources.

Disney+ provides a wide range of content from its properties, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, “Star Wars” and National Geographic, in addition to Disney‘s original TV shows and films such as “Loki” and “The Mandalorian.” All episodes of “The Simpsons” are also available via the platform.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom has not sought a partnership with Disney. Instead, the company is expected to increase investment in streaming services such as Wavve and Ocean.

SK Telecom previously invested some 30 billion won to purchase a 20 percent stake in Korea Content Platform, a US-based joint venture of Korean terrestrial broadcasters, with an aim of expanding the content portfolio and audience base of Wavve.