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Korea,Kids Content

Turner Doubles Down In Korea

Turner has launched its second wholly owned localized channel in Korea, kids and family offering Boomerang, around eight months after taking full control of Cartoon Network Korea.

The launch is a mark of confidence that Turner can grow ad revenues in Korea’s low-Arpu pay-TV market, with the broadcaster’s North Asia MD Phil Nelson evaluating ways to add a third localized offering, potentially in the next one to two years.

“We have the experience of running one and now two localized channels,” Nelson tells Media Business Asia.

“It’s a foundation that we’re in a unique position to build upon,” he adds.

“We are also big believers in Korean content in general, so the more we do in that market helps us to do things with Korean partners or Korean content outside of Korea.”

Turner already uses Korea as one of its global centers for post-production. It also recently greenlit a coproduction for a series of animated shorts in Korea, its biggest animation project in the market so far.

The shorts will be distributed across Turner’s kids portfolio in APAC as well as via Cartoon Network in EMEA in late 2016.

Turner also runs a Korean entertainment channel, Oh!K, in Southeast Asia, anchored around an output deal with local broadcast major MBC.

Earlier this year, Turner dissolved its two JVs with long-term partner JoongAng Ilbo, one for Cartoon Network and one for local entertainment offering QTV, although it retains an investment in JoongAng’s general entertainment channel, JTBC.

As part of the deal, Turner sold its stake in QTV but took full control of Cartoon Network, Korea’s second most popular kids channel after Tooniverse, part of local entertainment powerhouse CJ E&M.

More for kids

Boomerang, meanwhile, made its Korean debut on Saturday, landing in about 15 million homes, about 78% of the TV population in market where almost every household subscribes to pay-TV.

It’s the first APAC market outside Australia and Southeast Asia for the channel, which was repositioned a year ago with a fresh infusion of orginal content as a companion offering for Cartoon Network.

Since then, Boomerang has been building up its presence in Southeast Asia, although there is little room for it as a traditional linear channel in Japan.

“We have to look at more creative ways to do something in Japan, which we are entertaining right now,” Nelson says. 

Korea will also be the first market in Asia to get a local language version of Boomerang’s free Watch and Play app, which made its APAC debut in English last month.

Functionality is on par with Cartoon Network’s Watch and Play app, which was launched two years ago.

The apps are free, offering games and select short-form content, although they can be modified into authenticated TV Everywhere apps where there is market demand.

Turner also generates licensing and merchandizing revenue from its kids properties, although this is a relatively small part of its Korea business at present.

This could grow in the future however, for Cartoon Network which has steadily been building ratings in recent years, as well as for sister company Warner Bros, Boomerang's primary content partner.

Turner also distributes two localized retransmission channels in Korea, CNN and TruTV.

In Korea, retransmission channels are not bound by the same domestic content rules, but are barred from carrying advertising.

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