IPTV in Korea

A 100 Mbps connection, a brand new Homevita home networking service including a complimentary Samsung Q1 Ultra (slick, black, DMB enabled, lovely keyboard). And all I can get is VOD channels. The closest thing to live TV I get is through classic web browsing or through CCTV (most exciting Reality TV program : who paid me a visit the last few days ?).

Forget about real time broadcasting : the Ministry of Information and Communication is in favor of it but the Korea Broadcasting Commission lobbied against it. The freshest news, sports or series you can get must be at least 24h old. And provided your IPTV service reached an agreement with the broadcaster, you must pay for them (like KRW 500 apiece - never mind those corny loyalty program points).

24 hour old ! Ancient by the standards of a (supposedly) information / knowledge society where 90% of households are already enjoying pay TV, where internet / mobile banking is commonplace, where interactivity starts when you wake up and stops when you fall asleep.

In spite of this key regulatory hurdle (the only reason why France is still a leader in commercial IPTV), and the competition of so many technos (including DMB*) IPTV is on its way to 3 M subs by EOY 2008.

And Daum still wants to become the 4th player this summer ; a TVNO on its competitors' backs with powerful partners : Microsoft (platform and Xbox 360 access), Celrun (set top boxes), and NHN / Naver (Korea's second portal and already a key VOD and TV aggregator - see Naver VOD or
Naver TV news for example)

The competitors ? The usual suspects :
- SK Telecom : the mobile leader is wolfing pionneer and leader Hanaro Telecom down. HanaTV targets 1.8M subs EOY (800k EOQ1 2008) with a break-even point at 2M.
- Korea Telecom (on the way to merging with KTF) : Mega TV has the cutest logo and the best network (optic fiber all the way through its Megapass broadband subsidiary).
- LG Telecom : #3 as always for the TTM as well as the market share. myLGTV has the weakest VOD catalog but that's better than nothing.

These 3 players just reached the 10M 3G subs plateau : 5.28M for KTF (+440K for Show in April), 4.68M for SKT (+470K for T Live) and 190K for LGT's Rev. A service.

* KBS, a top broacaster, is also national and regional T-DMB license holder (with KTF) - about U-KBS (VOD, KBS Star, KBS Heart, KBS Music, KBS Data, KBS-Mozen TPEG telematics... - yet another "Ubiquitus" service), see kbs.co.kr/dmb.

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