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KOCCA goes back to the real thing at BCWW 2022

Jessie K.M Jeong, vice president and chief operating officer at South Korean cultural export agency KOCCA, looks ahead to the upcoming BCWW event in Seoul and explores trends in the production and distribution of K-content.


How will BCWW 2022 be different from previous editions of the event?
BCWW 2022, unlike its previous edition which was conducted as an online market in 2019 due to the spread of Covid-19, will be organised in an offline format in conjunction with online markets. This year’s event will be attended by 168 local and international content companies as well as 609 buyers from 31 countries.


On its 22nd anniversary, BCWW 2022 aims to provide sustainable and lucrative network and business opportunities for stakeholders involved in the broadcasting industry at both home and abroad under the theme ‘Play the New Content, Dive into the BCWW.’ The event will also feature conferences addressing current trends in the broadcasting industry, presentations on emerging content, IP pitching and various other programmes.


BCWW 2022 will be a foundation for exploring newly emerging content and more effective content businesses that could complement the limits and challenges of online markets.


After two years of Zoom meetings, how important will it be to have BCWW in the real world?
Broadcasting content markets not only serve as commercial platforms for purchasing or selling content but also as social platforms for interactive engagements and networking.


Jessie K.M Jeong, KOCCA

Over the last two years, we have encountered a new normal, thanks to Covid-19, which critically impacted our daily lives. Before Covid -19, an online market functioned as a supplementary tool for an offline market, but this trend has been reversed with the advent of the pandemic.


Although advances in ICT technologies and Covid-19 have brought online markets into the mainstream, having the business all under one roof still plays a vital role in developing interpersonal networks, facilitated by face-to-face encounters.


Furthermore, despite the steady growth in online markets over the last two years, there have been more cons than pros to online-focused markets. The physical interactions and meetings between buyers and sellers are limited, not to mention the loss of liveliness of various screening events and programmes held during the market period.


Nevertheless, the quality of online markets will continue to rise inevitably along with technological advancements. However, online markets cannot be a substitute for face-to-face communication. In fact, it is highly unlikely that the innate human nature for building interpersonal relationships through decades of face-to-face interaction will change so easily.


Gender Survival: In the Wood
Gender Survival: In the Wood

What has KOCCA been doing to help Korean companies during the past two years?
KOCCA has been striving to support domestic producers and platform providers that have been negatively affected by Covid-19, specifically in the areas of planning/creation, production and distribution.


For the planning and creation elements, KOCCA strengthened its support on planning and development by helping to uncover original IP that can lead to actual production.


In production, KOCCA expanded its investment in content exponentially to further reinforce Korea’s original programming following the success of Netflix’s Kingdom and Squid Game.


In particular, as the planning/creation (IP development) is becoming far more important in the global content production and distribution market, much of our support was made on this component, which led to successful outcomes.



Lastly, on distribution, KOCCA implemented a support system that reflects the recent shift in the global distribution channels to an online format. In addition, KOCCA provided generous cross-sectoral support for all stages of post-production, from planning to production, as post-production is now a critical component.


How has the Korean production and distribution market changed in recent years?
As global and local OTT platforms such as Netflix, Wavve, TVING and Seezn begin to expand their business, there have been significant changes to the structures of the Korean production and distribution market. Unlike times when terrestrial and cable TV broadcasters dominated market share, we are now witnessing much flexibility on content in terms of genre, subject, length and numbers of episodes, expression, intensity and other things.


As a result, new content in new genres has emerged, such as Squid Game, Hellbound and All of Us Are Dead, dealing with zombies and monstrous creatures. In addition, OTT platform providers are now outcompeting the legacy media such as terrestrial and cable TV broadcasters in content distribution as well. Content distribution is also changing in that new Korean content is being released simultaneously through various global OTT platforms instead of being released through local broadcasting companies.


Still Alive
Still Alive

What data can you share regarding exports of K-content in recent years?
From 2017 to 2020, the export of content by Korean broadcasting operators increased by 19.8% on an annual average, reaching US$491.54m in 2020. The majority of these exports are currently completed broadcast programmes but this portion is decreasing as the export of formats and other types of production – such as video clips or promotional videos – is on the rise.


In 2020, drama and entertainment claimed the largest portion of domestic broadcast programming exported in 2020 (US$355.11m) with drama being the dominant genre by a significant margin.


The export of finished Korean drama increased by 10% from 2017 to 2020, reaching US$274.65m in 2020. However, the export of terrestrial TV dramas stalled in the same period, which means that the increase is mainly due to exports of drama by programme providers (PP) in the pay TV sector.


The Song We Loved, A New Singer
The Song We Loved, A New Singer

In 2020, Asia (53.2%) was the biggest market for domestic broadcasting programmes from Korea, with Japan (22.6%) being the number one market among Asian countries. For the export of finished work by PP, the US accounts for 37.5%. Such figure may indicate that the US market share can grow larger than that of Asia (42.7%) in the near future. It was also observed that 68.7% of domestic broadcasting programmes in 2020 were distributed by internet-based providers including OTT services.


How has the switch to streaming changed the Korean broadcast and cable industries?
In Korea, broadcasting and streaming have become interdependent media. For instance, Korean OTT platform Wavve provides content from three major terrestrial broadcasters (KBS, MBC and SBS) and TVING covers content from tvN and JTBC, which are cable TV companies. Hence, this means that content is first released on terrestrial and cable TV channels and then on respective OTT platforms after a short delay.


Meanwhile, global OTT platforms also purchase licences from Korean terrestrial and cable TV companies to make available the content on their platforms, due to rising popularity and demand for Korean dramas, including melodrama, romance, comedy and historical drama. For instance, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, a recent Korean drama on cable channel ENA, proved that even a traditional form of media can be successful if equipped with competitive and attractive content. This also demonstrates that a single drama can make a newly launched cable TV channel a success.


Hall Pass
Hall Pass

What trends do you see in the global market for K-content?
First, TV series Squid Game, Hellbound and All of Us Are Dead all became hits by combining Korean contexts with genres and subjects already familiar to global audience, such as zombies, monsters and dystopian worlds. All of these series are based on Korean webtoons and web novels and the production of such content suggests this trend will continue.


Second, TV series similar to Our Blues, My Liberation Notes and Extraordinary Attorney Woo – which reflect typical Korean contexts appealing to emotions such as melodrama and romance – are also expected to be produced more following the success of those shows.


Third, new Korean entertainment formats such as King of Mask Singer, I Can See Your Voice and Exchange will be in the spotlight as well.



What should Korean content companies be doing to get ahead of those trends?
More efforts are needed for planning and developing diverse content. The efforts include discovering and dramatising domestic and international original webtoons and web novels as well as searching and training new writers. At the same time, new content must be planned and produced that can appeal to global audience while capturing Korea’s traditional strengths and specialties.


What new initiatives has KOCCA got planned for the future?
KOCCA plans to expand its support for new content production that can be serviced through Korean OTT platforms. Moreover, we will continue to support the planning, development and production of shortform and midform content exclusively designed for digital media.


In addition, KOCCA will continue to support and invest in developing new entertainment formats and creating new content incorporating AR, VR and AI technologies to expand audiovisual experiences.


Please can you share some highlights of the new Korean shows launching at BCWW?
Five broadcasters will present new content during the Premiere Showcase at BCWW 2022. Reborn Rich, a coproduction between Raemongraein and SLL Studio starring Song Joongki and Shin Hyunbeen, is the most anticipated drama, followed by political drama Trolley from SBS, historical drama The Forbidden Marriage from MBC and popular weekend drama Three Bold Siblings from KBS.


CJ ENM will present Exchange 2, a dating reality show in which couples who have gone through break-ups reunite in one place, reminisce about their past relationships and find new love. The first season gained global popularity and there are plans to produce the format around the world.

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