LIVE BROADCAST CONTENT FOR SOUTH KOREAN IPTV SERVICE: WILL IT TAKE OFF? Asia Pacific Market Insights. By: Min Cho, Industry Analyst

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1 2009 LIVE BROADCAST CONTENT FOR SOUTH KOREAN IPTV SERVICE: WILL IT TAKE OFF? By: Min Cho, Industry Analyst Asia Pacific s Frost & Sullivan s commentary on the Asia Pacific ICT industry, addressing opportunities, best practices, and major events We accelerate growth

2 Synopsis South Korea has lagged other Asia Pacific markets such as Hong Kong and China in IPTV services mainly due to delay of legislation allowing IPTV service providers to broadcast live content. The market has witnessed a prolonged dispute between the telecom operators and the broadcasting operators as the Ministry of information and communications (MIC) was not able to successfully mediate between the two parties. However, in 2008, after the change of government, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) settled this dispute on re-transmission of broadcasting services by telecom providers. As a consequence of KCC s mediation, agreements were reached between telecom providers and the content owners and broadcast companies in the market. KT has signed agreements on re-transmission of broadcasting services with KBS, SBS and also MBC. On December , SK Broadband (SKB) and LG Dacom signed agreements with KBS and SBS. A successful IPTV service is a key growth frontier for telecom operators suffering from falling voice ARPUs and a saturated broadband market(over 90% penetration). The challenge is that the world of TV broadcasting is new territory for the telecom operators. Market drivers Movement to Convergence through M&A The South Korean market has moved towards convergent players through M&A activity. SKT acquired Hanaro Telecom (at present: SK Broadband) in 2008 and KT merged its subsidiary KTF into the parent. Other telecom operators were opposed to the M&A plans by KT as they think it will increase the incumbent s dominance in the market. However, KT s M&A has finally been approved by KCC on the condition that KT submits plans to improve its facilities, improve the system on number portability and improve wireless access system. Frost & Sullivan believes this M&A will have a dramatic influence on both telecom industry and the cable broadcasting industry. Government s initiative to fuel the growth of IPTV industry Since 2008, KCC has taken strong initiative to boost IPTV services in South Korea. In 2009, KCC and MKE have established an overall plan for IPTV technology development and standardization in South Korea. The first part of the plan includes device development for open IPTV and QoS technology. Government will invest KRW 12.0 billion in this plan from 2009 to The second part of the plan is composed of strategic development plans for next generation IPTV mobile network technology, intelligent network service control technology, home media control technology and media transmission technology. Government will invest in KRW 61.2 billion from 2009 to 2011 for this plan. The government plans to spend KRW 13.7 billion from 2009 to 2011 on the third part which is related to test bed construction and committee set-up. In addition, KCC also plans to invest in education content development to expand IPTV services to other public sectors, partnering with Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). Investment for this plan is likely to be worth KRW 15.0 billion by Frost & Sullivan Page 2

3 Service Provider s CAPEX plans to improve their networks Live broadcast content for South Korean IPTV service: will it take off? Telecom operators believe that IPTV is an essential service for multi play. KT, SKT and LG Dacom plan to invest a total of KRW 5.66 trillion in network upgrade and content acquisition costs by Due to the financial crunch, the spending on IPTV might be curtailed to some extent. Frost & Sullivan however believes, all telecom operators will stay positive about IPTV and will make the necessary investments. Although South Korea has a well-developed network infrastructure in the cities and towns, it needs to be optimized to offer IPTV. SKT is likely to provide nationwide IPTV service with live broadcast content next year due to lack of network coverage. As of March 2009, SKT s network coverage to provide nationwide IPTV services with broadcast content still reaches 60 to 70 percent of the addressable market. KT plans to expand the network coverage from the current 70 percent to 95 percent of households in 2010 to increase its IPTV uptake. Leverage on technology benefits of IPTV as a platform for further services and targeted advertising The flexibility of IP enables providers to provide innovate services for IPTV which involve interactivity, leverage on convergence and also incorporate internet widgets into the TV viewing experince. For instance KT established a joint venture with Koreafirsttec and developed this technology. KT commerce will be in charge of product sourcing and shopping mall management when this service goes live. KT expects that this will be a major revenue source for IPTV because KT will earn money based on CPC (cost per click). Frost & Sullivan sees that innovations like these will provide new value preposition to the users and boost IPTV service take-up in the market. Fragmented Cable TV Operators The South Korean market is divided into 77 geographical broadcasting regions for cable TV operators by the regulator. The broadcasting law allowed one cable TV operator to broadcast in maximum of 15 areas. However, in December 2008, a new law was passed which allows one cable TV operator to operate in maximum of 25. Driven by this law, the leading cable TV operator, Tbroad acquired Qrix in February The law can further fuel M&A activity for the cable TV operators. Some of the operators have still limited service portfolio in their region and most of operators have analog broadcasting system. Faced by aggressive telecom operators and economic downturn, the cost to upgrade broadcasting 2009 Frost & Sullivan Page 3

4 system from analogue to digital is a significant burden to cable TV operators. Therefore, Frost & Sullivan believes that additional M&A between cable TV operators will be delayed until they roll out better services and networks. Market challenges Economic downturn and the saturated Pay TV market South Korean telecom operators have announced that they will invest substantially in IPTV by However, the economic slump is likely to reduce or delay IPTV infrastructure spends for telecom operators. The South Korean market has one of the highest Pay TV penetration rates in the world. This high rate will present a challenge to the service providers in penetrating the Pay TV market. Moreover cable TV ARPUs in South Korea at KRW 8,000 to KRW 10,000 is relatively very low for a developed market. To offer TV services at this price will stretch the payback horizon of the new investements. Grip of Cable TV providers on the Pay TV market The cable TV operators in South Korea have multi-play offerings and bundled subscription rates are almost 70 percent of the total subscriptions. The cable TV operators also offer attractive regional services and information like traffic updates, air service information, regional weather and regional news. Cable TV operators will leverage their regional broadcasting services to protect their business from telco s threat. Additionally, seen in the table 1.1, they have much longer content line up (maximum 162 channels) compared to telecom operators. So the IPTV players have to aggressively expand their content line-up to match the cable TV providers. Table 1.1 the number of channels and pricing plan: Telco versus CATV operators Content Acquisition In the South Korean market, content owners and program providers (PP) focused their partnerships with cable broadcasting companies. One of the major PP in the market, OnMedia has recently started to provide content to KT. Content acquisition costs can also further burden the telecom providers who 2009 Frost & Sullivan Page 4

5 are already incurring significant OPEX and CAPEX costs. However, Frost & Sullivan envisages strengthening of partnerships between PPs and telecom providers in the next 2 to 3 years. The partnerships are going to be driven by telecom providers searching for additional source of revenue from Pay TV service. Charging for VoD services by IPTV service providers After push from terrestrial broadcasting companies, IPTV providers have started to charge for VoD service. This can have a negative effect on IPTV service uptake as many users will not be willing to pay for VoD service. This can hinder the growth of IPTV subscribers in the market. However Frost & Sullivan believes that IPTV service has potential in the South Korean market as telecom operators can leverage their multi play offerings to offer bundled offerings. Bundled offerings will also enable the telecom providers to curtail their churn rates. Cable TV Providers Mobile Play Some of the Cable TV operators provide broadband and VoIP service on top of their Cable TV offering. The revised telecommunications law also allows the Cable TV operators to enter into the mobile space as mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). Cable TV operators have announced that they would start MVNO services in However, Cable TV operators are not expected to have significant success in MVNO service mainly because the network lease payment is dependent on decision of the concerned mobile operator. The telecom providers will have greater success in bundled offerings as they have complete control over each of their service. KT is the strongest player and offers IPTV, broadband, VoIP, fixed-line, WiBro and mobile in its bundled portfolio. SKT s bundled portfolio is composed of broadband, IPTV, fixed-line and mobile. LG Dacom offers IPTV, broadband and VoIP. LG Dacom can also offer mobile service in partnership with its sister company, LG Telecom. Frost & Sullivan believes that inclusion of MVNO mobile offering will not strengthen the bundled offering of Cable TV operators significantly. Conclusions and suggestions The saturation in the South Korean telecom industry has eroded the telecom provider s profitability from wired services. KT, especially, has been in trouble with VoIP eroding its fixed line voice services and therefore feels the need to stabilize the decline in fixed line revenues. Frost & Sullivan believes that IPTV CAPEX plans of telecom operators can take a hit as all industries get influenced by the global economic slump. Before, making investments, the telecom operators are likely to undertake detailed analysis of the returns they can get on their investments. Backed by government s strong initiative, the market is poised for healthy investments in IPTV by the telecom operators which can help them gain some foothold in the Pay TV market. Due to their high penetration rates, Cable TV operators enjoy influence in the paid broadcasting industry and have strong relationships with the terrestrial broadcasting companies. However the terrestrial broadcasting companies have started to provide their content to telecom operators. Telecom operators are also trying to build partnerships with program providers (PP) to get access to additional cable broadcasting content. As the telecom operators increase their Pay TV penetrations, the PP s will 2009 Frost & Sullivan Page 5

6 be inclined to share content with the telecom operators. Live broadcast content for South Korean IPTV service: will it take off? Mobile IPTV service has promise in the South Korean market, however due to lack of government regulations the service has not been launched commercially. Due to convergence of services, if mobile IPTV service is offered in conjunction with fixed IPTV service, this can increase the proliferation of IPTV in South Korea. The IP nature of IPTV also means that IPTV providers can offer innovative services not possible by cable TV, for example online shopping, content sharing, time shifted viewing, npvr and multiple channels in HD. These features will help the IPTV providers to differentiate their service from cable TV providers. Furthermore, driven by increasing customer demands, South Korean IPTV providers are likely to create new business models in cooperation with various industry participants. Cable TV subscribers in South Korea are reaching the 15.0 million mark as of March 2009 and IPTV subscribers have reached 1.61 million(largely VOD) by the end of December Telecom operators are not expected to engage in price wars among themselves. However, telecom operators are likely to foster pricing competition with Cable TV operators in the Pay TV market because for success, IPTV providers will have to cannibalize on the cable TV subscribers. Pay TV users are also not expected to subscribe to both cable TV and IPTV service. As IPTV providers expand their network coverage, they can take advantage of their multi play by offering bundled subscriptions to penetrate the Pay TV market. Frost & Sullivan expects the South Korean Pay TV market to climb on the IPTV bandwagon and expects that South Korean IPTV subscriber number will reach 4.67 million by Frost & Sullivan Page 6

7 Contact Tel: (65) Website: About Frost & Sullivan Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best in class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company's Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO's Growth Team with disciplined research and best practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from 31 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit Frost & Sullivan Page 5

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