Naver hatches up plan to topple YouTube in S. Korea

November 23, 2015
Naver followed suit after Daum Kakao announced an active protest against government requests to view its message database.

(Courtesy of Naver/Yonhap))

By Brian Han

Let’s face it. When it comes to video streaming, there’s only one name that really matters and that’s YouTube.

It’s just the way things have been for over a decade on a global scale. But in South Korea, something else is stirring that hopes to change the online media landscape.

Internet portal Naver plans to change that notion at least within the country’s borders.

When Naver CEO Kim Sang-hyun gave a keynote speech last week, he kept on reiterating two words — “mobile” and “live.”

Sound familiar?

YouTube already provides a similar service by hosting live video, and Twitter recently launched Periscope. Then there’s Twitch.TV, which brings in hundreds of millions of unique viewers every month for live gaming streams.

So how does a company like Naver, besides the fact that it’s one of most trafficked websites in South Korea, stand a chance against these other tech behemoths?

A contract.

Naver signed a deal with Smart Media Rep (SMR). That name might mean a little more once you realize that SMR represents a larger media group consisting of CJ Entertainment, MBC, SBS, JTBC, TV Chosun, Channel A and MBN.

That list is made up of heavy hitters and after Google wanted to take too big of a cut, 45 percent to be exact, to stream their content, Naver stepped in.

The internet portal proposed a deal to take only a 10 percent cut, something SMR really couldn’t refuse even though their online reach would have a considerably smaller impact.

If anything, it was an act of faith that the two companies, dominant in South Korea, could grow something together.

And that’s how Naver plans to shake things up.