Office Worker Lee Joon-beom often studies English using his smartphone while commuting from Sadang-dong in Seoul to Ansan City by subway. On March 4, he watched the Korea-Australia World Baseball Classic (WBC) game via his smartphone on his way home. Most subway passengers have their eyes focused on their smarphones, just like Lee.
As an increasing number of people watch TV on the move, competition is getting fiercer among cable TV networks, telecommunication businesses and terrestrial broadcast service providers to attract mobile viewers. Cable networks are expanding N-Screen services aiming at mobile viewers while telecommunication businesses are promoting combined products and vast amount of contents while. And terrestrial broadcast service providers are appealing to viewers in alliance with TV manufacturers. N-Screen allows the same content to stream seamlessly on a number of different devices including PC, TV and cell phone.
According to industry sources on March 5, Multiple System Operators (MSOs) and local cable networks have recently launched N-Screen services one after another. C&M, the biggest cable company in the Seoul metropolitan area, started “Pooq” in cooperation with Contents Union Platform, a joint venture of terrestrial networks, last month. Pooq is a kind of N-Screen service dedicated to terrestrial TV programs. Subscribers to Pooq can enjoy terrestrial broadcast programs and VOD through PC, tablet and smartphone without limits. Competition is apparently heating up as C&M enters the N-Screen service market following CJ Hellovision (TVing), Hyundai HCN (EveryOn TV) and Tbroad (Tbroad).
Moreover, some local cable companies including Taegu Cable Networks (TCN), Kwangju Broadcasting (KBC) and Gangwon Broadcasting Networks (GBN), held hands with EveryOn TV and began real-time local channel broadcast services. KCTV Jeju also provides real-time local channel broadcast, local news and VOD services through its smartphone application called “KCTV Mobile.”
Mobile carriers are also expanding N-Screen services to increase revenue through distribution of contents. KT is providing about 40,000 popular educational and animation contents on demand through application-style mobile video service called “Olleh TV Now.” SK Broadband is trying to make a difference through “BTV Mobile” currently conducting a special event of on-demand terrestrial program streaming service.
Terrestrial networks have held their hands with TV manufacturers not to fall behind. Contents Union Platform is expected to launch a new kind of smart TV mounted with “Pooq TV” in alliance with Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics soon. With this TV, you can see lots of channels via the Internet while not subscribing to cable TV, IPTV or satellite TV.
Cable networks, mobile carriers and terrestrial broadcasting companies are actively exploring the market because the number of “mobile customers” who watch TV on the move has sharply increased. According to Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI), the proportion of N-Screen service users has been nearly doubled to 53.1% in 2012 from 29.8% in 2011. For example, 51.2% of CJ Hellovision’s TVing viewers watched Korea’s second WBC game, and especially 74.6% of them used mobile devices such as smartphone and tablet PC to watch the program.
“In the past, people consumed contents mostly through TV. But now, as tablet and smartphone have gained wide popularity and unlimited 3G and LTE services have been expanded, the number of mobile users has sharply increased. I think more consumers will choose mobile streaming services in the future because technology will not go only to watching TV through N-Screen but also to two-way services by which consumers can directly participate in shopping programs, voting or so,” said Kim Young-ran, a team head of CJ Hellovision.