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Disney+: Will it be able to survive in Korea?

CMS 120A Capstone Project

Fri, Dec 3rd 2021 03:30 pm

By Yunmin Kim

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

On Nov. 12, Disney+, one of the top three streaming sites in the U.S. OTT market, launched it in Korea. In recent years, there have been many issues related to the launch in Korea, but it was finally officially released in Korea. It joined hands with LG U+, a large Korean telecommunication company, to start providing services.

Disney+ provides content from Disney's core brands such as Disney, Pixar, Marvel, “Star Wars”, National Geographic and Star. In particular, it is the original Disney+ of the Hollywood blockbuster Marvel series, which has a solid fandom in Korea. In addition, there were expectations that it would be the emergence of a platform that could check Netflix, which is positioned as the "first-tier" in the Korean OTT market. A week after Disney+ was released in Korea, looked at whether it was as hot as expected.

Disney+ was launched in Korea and the most controversial part is the launching show. The scale of the launching show organized by Disney was more than imagined. Disney has provided services that enable streaming on large Korean platforms Naver NOW and YouTube. The launching show was followed by performances by contemporary dance group Ambigious Dance Company and orchestra, musical actors Ok Joo-hyun and Gil Byung-min, and singer Ailee. In addition, attractions from all over the country became the background of the laser show, the highlight of the launching show.

The public's response to this massive composition was hot. On the internet, there were responses saying, "It's fancier than the opening ceremony of the Olympics," and "It's like a promotional video for Korea." In Korea, the "launching show" itself is an unfamiliar event. In this situation, a huge launch show was held, and it was natural for the public to draw attention.

According to IGAWorks' mobile index, the number of active daily users (DAU) of the Disney+ app on the 12th is 344,000. Considering that Netflix had about 100,000 subscribers in its first year in Korea in 2016, the first day's performance can be seen as successful. However, compared to other OTT services in Korea, there is still a long way to go.

Disney+, still called a hot potato in the OTT market, has been embroiled in several controversies since its launch. These few controversies have become an obstacle to gaining momentum in the early stages. The first is the translation controversy.

Translation is the most important part of streaming services as it is serviced in countries that do not speak English as their first language. Disney+ launches the service, and what many users commonly point out is subtitles and translation. Yunseo Kim, a university student who started subscribing to the service in time for the release date, expressed regret, saying, "I think I turned it around with a translator, not a professional translator." This problem appeared more severely in contents other than those released in theatrical versions such as the Marvel series and with basic translation. At the start of the service, newly translated contents did not sync with the subtitles or were excessively abbreviated. For example, the description of "Deadpool 2" says it's the second story of the "Deadpool” series or translating “13 days later” into “13 years later”. Moreover, when Spanish came out, there was a problem of writing down the pronunciation, not the meaning.

The next most pointed out part is the content-related issue. Although it was released with high expectations, it is not providing as much content as expected. The supply and demand of popular content such as Disney, Marvel and “Star Wars” continues smoothly. However, most of the top Disney+ streaming contents shown in Flixpatrol, which aggregates global OTT content rankings, do not provide services. Representative examples are "Luca," "Home Sweet Home Alone," a reboot of "Home Alone," "Black Widow," and MCU's "What If...?" Some of them have been announced by Disney to be released on Disney Day on the 12th. However, even until the launch date, there was no notice or apology for the delay in the release of the content.

In other words, Disney+ is being discriminated against in the content itself even after paying the same price as other countries. In this situation, another service user, college student Lee Shin-young, responded, "I think I see Korean users as pushover." Most of the internet communities also respond to this issue, saying, "I'm sorry for the attitude of providing services."

As this situation continues, experts say that localization is essential for Disney+ to become a representative OTT site such as Netflix in Korea "Disney+'s content range is too narrow," adding, "It need to invest in business content", said Media analyst Michael Nathanson. As recently appeared through the Squid Game, Korea is currently a content powerhouse that is drawing attention in the world. The public's need for content itself is high, and the quality of content released in Korea to meet these needs is also quite high. As a result, even if there are many contents coming from other countries, the demand for new domestic works or original contents using Korean creators is steady in Korea.

Considering these domestic circumstances, Disney+ has also announced the release of various original contents even before its launch. With "Running Man: The Play on the Runner," a spin-off program of the popular Korean program "Running Man," are planning content that can catch not only domestic fans but also overseas viewers. In addition, the documentary film "BLACKPINK: The Movie" by global girl group BLACKPINK and the new works by Lee Soo-yeon, who wrote the scenario for the popular Korean drama "Stranger," will be released sequentially. In this regard, columnist Min Yong-joon said, "If I am not interested in Disney+’s original series, I will not be very interested in the service," adding, "The success of the original Korean content currently being planned and produced will be a watershed."

Amid various problems and hot but disappointing reactions, how Disney+ Korea will attract subscribers is emerging as a hot potato. It remains to be seen whether Disney Plus can overcome numerous controversies and rise to the same position in Korea and the United States.

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Niagara Frontier Publications works with the Niagara University communication studies department to publish the capstone work of students in CMS 120A-B.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of NFP, NU or the communication studies department. Moreover, efforts have been made to encourage the proper use of sources, and discourage anything that would constitute plagiarism.

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