U.S. video-streaming provider Netflix has attracted more than a million users in Korea on their Android mobile devices alone, just three years after entering the market here.
The number of Netflix users has increased by 200,000 to 300,000 every three month, and industry watchers forecast the company to become the No. 1 video-streaming provider in Korea soon.
According market researcher Wiseapp on Wednesday, 1.27 million people used the Netflix app on their Android phones last month, a 3.7-fold increase from January 2018. If people who access Netflix on their PCs or iPhones are counted, the number is probably much higher.
Netflix offers movies, series and other shows on demand. Up to four people can access a single account, and it has around 900,000 Korean accounts, translating into W11.7 billion in monthly fees (US$1=W1,118). Worldwide it has 139 million subscribers in 190 countries.
Netflix has invested W150 billion to produce Korean content so far. That includes period zombie series "Kingdom," which alone cost W1.5 billion to W2 billion per episode, more than four times the average budget of Korean soaps. It was released globally last Friday.
It also spent W50 billion on the 2017 film "Okja" by director Bong Joon-ho and W30 billion for the hit TV drama "Mr. Sunshine" last year. This year it will launch two drama series and one entertainment program here.
Netflix already has a firm grip on the streaming markets in the U.S. and Europe. Netflix's strategy is to invest half of its earnings in content and technology. Last year it spent US$8 billion to produce original content and acquire rights to other materials. It claims to offer unlimited access to more than 10,000 movies and drama series for just around W10,000 a month, though in fact a great deal of content is restricted by region.
It also faces criticism for not paying Korean telecom providers despite using massive amounts of data through its high-capacity streaming service.
Naver and Kakao pay Korean telecoms tens of billions a year in usage fees.