Netflix faces uphill battle to change Korea's TV viewing: Report

Netflix, the world's largest video streaming service provider, may struggle to "change the game" in the way Korean viewers consume TV and film content, if and when it launches its service in the country next year, says a report released Thursday.

The Korea Creative Content Agency said in an analysis report that Koreans would continue to prefer watching pay digital TV services, such as IPTV, which are likely to be cheaper than the online streaming services of Netflix.

The report also noted that local consumers would want to watch video-on-demand programs at will, paying on a per-viewing basis for VOD content, and be able to control them as if operating a VCR, instead of paying monthly fees for unlimited programs.

The state-run content agency suggested that it would be difficult for Netflix to operate and provide services in Korea unless through partnerships with local pay TV networks.

However, in a recent interview with a local news outlet, Scott Mirer, vice president of Netflix's device partner ecosystem, said Netflix can provide content via its streaming services without partnerships in Korea, adding that anyone with Internet access could view its content.

Netflix, which operates in over 50 countries with some 69 million subscribers, announced that it intends to launch its video streaming services in Korea early next year.

The streaming giant, which began with DVD-by-mail rental services in its nascent years, has expanded into not only showing content of other broadcasting networks, but also into producing original TV series and films, further challenging traditional media.

With hits such as political drama "House of Cards," Netflix has changed the way people consume TV and movies by creating the "binge-watching" trend, enabling viewers to watch all of a TV series or multiple sitcom episodes at once, anytime and anywhere. Netflix will coproduce with American film star Brad Pitt's production company, investing $50 million (S$70.9 million) to make Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho's next monster flick, "Okja."

The KOCCA report noted that traditional broadcasting media in European countries such as the UK and France have strengthened their marketing and mobile services after Netflix expanded operations in the region.