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KT revamps pay TV services to compete with Netflix

Telco firm turns to film directors, YouTubers, to select list of movies

With the global streaming service Netflix gaining popularity among South Koreans by offering original content, the country’s major telecom firm KT has revamped its pay TV services to prevent subscribers from cutting the cord.

During a press conference Tuesday, KT said its Internet Protocol TV service, Olleh TV, had updated its list of films not released in Korean theaters. The premium content is available for 10,000 won ($8.77) per movie through a service called Olleh TV Choice. 


While downplaying suggestions that the company might follow in the footsteps of LG Uplus and cooperate with Netflix to boost its video content, KT said its focus was on expanding options for Korean moviegoers with limited access to the latest low-budget foreign films.

“Apparently, there are some things that Netflix is good at ... our decision comes in the context of diversity to meet consumers’ needs,” Vice President Choi Kwang-chul, who manages the media platform division at KT, told reporters at the company’s headquarters in Gwanghwamun, Seoul.

Starting with “A Dog’s Way Home,” the movie list is to be updated every week until 30 “unreleased films” are available by the end of this year, KT said. Among those to be offered is “Terminal,” starring Margot Robbie.

A panel of popular film directors and YouTube streamers will determine what sorts of movies become available, KT said. The company also agreed to cooperate with major Hollywood studios such as WarnerBros and 20th Century Fox to provide movie content.

The move appears to be a response to the growing popularity of Netflix among Korean viewers. According to industry tracker WiseApp on Wednesday, about 1.53 million people used Netflix’s paid services last month.

Netflix’s cheapest plan, available to selected subscribers for a limited time, costs 1,625 won ($1.40) per week. Most Korean subscribers to local IPTV services pay 1,000 to 2,000 won for TV shows and old movies.

By Yeo Jun-suk (