Watcha - The OTT Platform from Korea in a Nutshell

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Besides Netflix, there’s no short of Over The Top (OTT) platforms these days in Korea. The thought of going international in the midst of this pandemic might seem tumultuous and challenging, but that hasn’t brought plans to a screeching halt. Certainly not for Watcha at least.

Watcha’s beginnings were with Watchapedia, similar to IMDB, an online crowdsourced database for TV series and movie ratings. Upon sign up, you’re asked to contribute and rate a list of TV shows and movies. The more you rate, the more Watcha learns your viewing interests. Essentially, you’ll be part of a TV and movie lover community, discover new TV series and films, while experiencing a blast from the past. Watchapedia is a vehicle driving viewership on major video platforms in Korea, but works seamlessly better with Watcha's own video platform, with its highly personalized recommendation system. The more you rate, thanks to machine learning, the more specific and accurate the recommendation algorithm.

The social sharing aspect makes for an added entertaining experience. Most would agree shows and movies highly rated within your social network, to a certain extent, is a driver for inquisitiveness. This increases the odds if your friends share similar tastes in TV series and films. A great tactic to drive stickiness on the platform. Having tested Watcha's OTT platform myself, the user experience was rather intuitive. Here's a quick walkthrough of both Watchapedia and Watcha.

Watcha has been aggressive in the domestic market and shows no signs of stopping, as it inked partnerships with local giants and international studios. Due to the lack of HBO presence in Korea, one of Watcha’s biggest pluses is the availability of HBO favorites such as “Game of Thrones and “Chernobyl” on its platform. They also have plans to dive into the music market through Watcha Music Publishing, established as a music distribution platform to connect independent artists’ works to relevant partners, as reported by the Korea Herald.

On the video technology infrastructure front, Watcha signed a deal with Samsung Electronics in November 2019 in a bid to expand service with high dynamic range (HDR) content offerings, which was launched in December 2020. Partnering with a tech giant like Samsung has improved Watcha’s video technology by leaps and bounds. Earlier this month, they’d announced implementing HDR10+ video technology within their service specifically for a few selected movies by the end of 2020. To simply explain, HDR10+ utilizes dynamic metadata enabling brightness boundaries to be switched frame by frame. The result? An overall richer viewing experience with sharper and more vibrant images. For details on HDR10+ technology, I recommend What Hi Fi’s “HDR10+ - everything you need to know”. It was informative and simple to understand.

Besides Samsung Electronics, Watcha also signed a deal with Cheil Jedang’s (CJ) CGV, Korea’s largest movie theater chain on November 9. The agreement aims to apply the expertise of both companies, analyze consumers’ taste online via the OTT service and offline in theaters, along with CGV’s compelling theater infrastructure, great synergies could be expected, according toe Watcha CEO, Park Tae Soon. The partnership is also expected to extend beyond Korean shores to Vietnam and Indonesia, where CGV already has a presence. These markets are in line with their South East Asian market penetration plan next year, after its launch in Japan this September.

Watcha’s impressive achievements are certainly paving way for its IPO, which according to The Bell, is in Watcha’s plan for 2021 or 2022. Stay tuned for more news on Watcha.

Images are taken directly from the official Watcha websites

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