Korean Wave Hits AFM as Home-Grown Content Grabs Global Attention Despite Tricky Market Conditions
After enduring long-lasting COVID restrictions, lots of the Korean executives attending the AFM this week might be making their first U.S. enterprise journey in additional than two years. Within the time that they have been away, the Korean leisure scene has undergone a metamorphosis.
The adjustments have proved difficult for some and useful for others. However, whether or not for defensive or aggressive causes, many Korean corporations are actually within the means of reshaping their companies. They’re making ready for a future wherein Korean leisure is now not a sideshow appreciated and accepted principally inside Asia.
In the course of the pandemic interval, “Parasite,” BTS and “Squid Recreation” have been carried by streaming platforms — music and video — to world audiences way more successfully than conventional media with its old style and geographically delineated gatekeepers. Followers of Korean leisure work together straight with new TV exhibits, on-line live shows and music teams in methods which might be instantaneous and measurable. The Korean Wave has reached locations as diverse because the U.S. Midwest, Latin America and India — the place media consumers had arguably underserved their audiences, particularly screen-based youthful generations unafraid of subtitles or music in international languages.
The Korean leisure sector that has been the least helped by the pandemic reset is the movie enterprise. As with different international locations, South Korea sustained manufacturing shutdowns. However extra damaging was the influence of movie releasing and exhibition, which actually solely kicked again into excessive gear in Could, when well being restrictions have been formally droppled, and is faltering once more. As releases of native titles, which generally accounted for a 50% market share, have been delayed or cancelled, field workplace slumped in each 2020 and 2021.
That created lasting monetary harm to giant components of the movie ecosystem, particularly producers, native distributors and exhibitors. Gross sales brokers and studios have been buoyed by library titles and demand from streamers searching for to construct deeper and extra consultant Korean content material choices.
Korean gross sales brokers have been the celebs of October’s rights market in Busan: “I didn’t speak to sellers from wherever else apart from Korea on a regular basis I used to be in Busan,” says a distinguished purchaser from Thailand. However their slates had far fewer genuinely new titles than in a pre-COVID yr. Many titles on supply had shot in 2020 or 2021 and have been in extended post-production, awaiting an acceptable Korean launch date.
That phenomenon might proceed via to AFM, although in-person conferences on the Loews Santa Monica will seemingly be with the non-Asian consumers who didn’t attend Busan. Korean gross sales brokers already report full diaries.
Curiosity in what Korean movie sellers have on supply and in preparation is prone to be additional juiced by the broader Ok-culture phenomenon.
“The large curiosity in Ok-Pop and TV drama is certainly serving to gross sales for Korean corporations,” says Danny Lee, who heads gross sales operations Contents Panda, the gross sales arm of studio Subsequent Leisure World. “I don’t suppose there are any extra obstacles between movie, TV drama and Ok-pop. It’s all linked collectively and kinda helps our gross sales.”
That’s as a result of many Korean leisure companies have modified their companies and techniques to suit the brand new circumstances: diminished theatrical values; extra onscreen and behind-the-camera expertise with world identify recognition; presently insatiable demand for TV content material (scripted drama particularly, but in addition Korean codecs and unscripted exhibits); and richer budgets. And, seemingly, nearly any mission that may connect a present or former Ok-pop star.
Korean movie manufacturing corporations have diversified into TV. Korean TV producers have diversified (shingle Barunson is launching a rights gross sales unit at AFM) or scaled up. Some, together with CJ ENM, JTBC and the J Contentree-backed SLL, massively so.
Music and expertise companies have moved into TV manufacturing and the know-how of fandom. And Korean tech leaders Naver and Kakao have spent tens of millions to bolster their prowess in engines like google and social media with investments that develop the fast-growing webtoon and on-line literature sectors.
Korean streamers TVing, Wavve and Coupang Play are increasing program commissioning and hatching offers that doubtlessly give them an opportunity to rival the established market chief Netflix, or not less than hold newcomers Apple, Amazon and HBO at bay.
So, whereas rights gross sales often is the order of the day within the Loews corridors, such offers might be the tip of a dealmaking iceberg as cool South Korea positions itself for a long-term world leisure position.