Korean programmes available here for free on new streaming service

The hosts of Korean variety show Running Man (from left) Kim Jong Kook, Song Ji Hyo, Gary Kang and Haha. The popular game show will be available as fast as eight hours after it has aired in South Korea.
The hosts of Korean variety show Running Man (from left) Kim Jong Kook, Song Ji Hyo, Gary Kang and Haha. The popular game show will be available as fast as eight hours after it has aired in South Korea.PHOTO: VIU

Korean content from the four major broadcasters - SBS, KBS, MBC and CJ E&M - is available here for free on a new streaming service, Viu.

Korean programmes such as popular game show Running Man will be available with subtitles in English or Chinese, as soon as eight hours after they have aired in South Korea.

Other titles available include the upcoming KBS drama Descendants Of The Sun and SBS hit drama My Love From The Star (2013).

The Viu app, available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store, can be viewed on smartphones, tablets and computers.

This will cater to the increasing number of viewers who prefer to watch content online and will also help combat piracy, says Ms Janice Lee, managing director of Hong Kong multimedia and entertainment group PCCW Media, which is behind the Viu app.

At the launch of Viu here on Monday, she says: "If we don't provide the content on this (online platform), they will go to piracy."

"I don't think viewers are being fully satisfied. They are getting the pirated content as a make-do. If you offer them good quality service at a reasonable price, they will choose it over the pirated content."

Like music streaming service Spotify, Viu will operate on a "freemium" model, where free content is offered along with premium services for those who pay. For instance, viewers may have to pay to download videos to view it offline. Details of the pricing scheme have yet to be announced.

Operations will be made sustainable with profits made from advertising and subscription fees, Ms Lee adds.

In future, Viu is looking to offer programmes from China, Japan and its own original content.

The rise of online video streaming sites, such as Netflix, could spell trouble for paid cable TV.

Viewer Sharon Chan, 40, is tempted to switch from cable TV to the app.

The freelance designer, who follows shows We Got Married and Running Man, says: "Cable TV can be pretty slow with new episodes. With the app, I can watch the shows on the go."

However, Ms Chan adds that she will continue subscribing to StarHub TV for her older family members as they are not Internet- savvy.

Telco and cable TV operator Singtel is confident that TV and the online streaming service will cater to different viewers.

Mr Goh Seow Eng, managing director of Singtel's home consumer Singapore, says: "Singtel TV is for the whole family, whereas the Viu app will be more for the individual."

He believes that online services such as Viu and Netflix complement TV.

Based on surveys done here, he says that such apps do not seem to be eating into the market share of cable TV.

In fact, Singtel will be working with Viu to provide a premium service.

Details will be announced later.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'Korean programmes available here for free on new streaming service'. Print Edition | Subscribe