Wavve keeps the top position among the Korean OTTs
BY Yako Molhov
Lee Tae-hyun, CEO of streaming service Wavve, talks about the success of his company on the competitive Korean market.
Lee Tae-hyun, CEO of Wavve
Lee, tell us a little bit more about Wavve. What is your business model, what kind of content do you offer?
Wavve was launched by a merger of OTTs owned by Korean biggest telco (SK Telecom) and Korean top 3 broadcasters (KBS, MBC, SBS) in September 2019. Wavve is in a strong position in Korean OTT market compared to the other SVOD players, through exclusive content partnerships with top domestic and global CPs, and exclusive marketing partnerships with SK Group’s ICT businesses.

Wavve provides the entire K-content (dramas, entertainment shows, etc.) of Korean top 3 broadcasters, HBO, HBO Max and NBCU content exclusively in Korea as well as popular Japanese and Chinese scripted dramas contributing to increase our competitiveness, while expanding “Wavve Original” portfolio focused on unique themes to differentiate ourselves.

Wavve provides SVOD, TVOD and Live & FAST channels, and the most of our revenue comes from SVOD subscription. In addition to the subscription revenue, our business is beginning to realize the meaningful revenue from the sale of Wavve Originals.

What are your main competitors on the Asian market and what makes Wavve stand out?
Netflix, as in any other countries in Asia, has the highest market share, however Wavve is the No.1 local OTT in Korea in terms of MAU count and has the highest view time among all SVOD players in the Korean OTT market surpassing Netflix.

Wavve's biggest strength is that it is the only OTT service having an exclusive access to the entire K-content (dramas, entertainment shows, etc.) of Korean top 3 broadcasters through the major shareholding ownership. No other K-OTTs can be compared to Wavve in terms of immediacy, necessity, and universal popularity as over 100 new episodes of top 3 broadcasters and major cable TV channels are being updated daily.

In addition, we continue to develop quality IPs and expand “Wavve Original” portfolio through Studio Wavve and top-tier producers that it has had successful outcomes contributing to our paid subscriber growth and market competitiveness. The paid subscriber contribution for Wavve Originals has tripled over the last year and currently accounts for more than 40% of the total paid subscriber contribution.

What kind of content are Asian audiences mostly interested in, besides local drama? What are the latest trends in the region?
Asia is a region where various countries, languages and cultural diversity coexist. K-contents, especially K-dramas and K-movies, along with Japanese animation, Bollywood and Chinese dramas have garnered great popularity not only in Asia but also globally. With the aid of OTT platforms, the number of contents gaining global popularity has been increasingly growing, and people around the world are becoming more connected and willing to accept cultural differences.

In terms of unscripted content, variety shows casting celebrities to play games or cooking contests were popular in the past, however nowadays, the reality shows are becoming more popular. Wavve has released many differentiated “Wavve Original” reality shows this year across from LGBT to the reality version of Squid Game and had successful outcomes contributing to our paid subscriber and active user growth.

What is your strategy about monetization of content?
We are contemplating and implementing strategies that can contribute to monetization through various domestic and global strategic alliance and marketing partnership. As an example, our recently released Wavve Original, Weak Hero Class 1, was ranked the first place in paid subscriber contribution and topicality for 4 weeks consecutively in Korea while also released on such global platforms as iQiyi (Taiwan/US), Amazon Prime/Roku/Comcast channels through Kocowa (Americas).

In 2023, we are planning to continue to focus on original content that can bring a meaningful outcome, and to develop a new business model and partnerships to expand and grow our business. We believe that global expansion is the major key to success, and therefore we will strive to make a significant contribution to the global expansion through synergy with Wavve Americas (Kocowa app) to become a leading global K-OTT based on our quality K-content.
Lee Tae-hyun is the Chief Executive Officer of Wavve. He was the President of Wavve prior. Before that, Lee was the Contents Business Director of KBS, coming from KBS World, where he served as Chief Producer. Previously, Lee was a NY Correspondent/PD. He graduated from the Korea University with a B.A. in Philosophy.
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