Kaltura powers puzzling Korean-US OTT service Kocawa

Kaltura has delivered on its promise that it would be unveiling an Asia Pacific win this week, but the announcement was not quite what we were expecting. The video technology vendor has landed a deployment at KCP (Korean Content Platform), a US entertainment company founded in Los Angeles just 7 months ago by a trio of Korean broadcasters KBS (Korean Broadcasting System), MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation) and SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System).

The deal is for the Kaltura TV Platform to power Kocawa, KCP’s new OTT service centered around Korean dramas – the service is set to launch sometime this summer.

As well as not being officially launched yet, neither KCP or Kaltura seem to know exactly where the service will be launching, but we suspect that the US will be the number one target, a market of an estimated 1.2 million Korean speakers, along with multiple Asia Pacific countries where K-dramas are hugely popular.

Therefore, the news doesn’t just represent Kaltura landing a contract with a Korean OTT service, but could also potentially mark a new entrant into the US OTT market– giving the company all the more reason to shout about it.

To add further confusion, initial impressions suggest that Kocawa will not be launching as a standalone OTT offering. Instead it looks to be pursuing distribution deals for its K-dramas on third-party SVoD services – and has already landed a handful of major partners.

The mysterious service will allow KBS, SBS and MBC to increase the global reach of their content portfolios beyond Korea. The three Korean broadcasters also jointly operate the Korean SVoD service Pooq, which potentially eliminates any suggestion that Kocawa will be launching on home soil.

Given that the fledgling company’s website states that Kocawa will have “high quality subtitles created by professional translators,” this strongly suggests that Kocawa is preparing for launch in English speaking countries.

A spokesperson from Kaltura all but confirmed this with Faultline Online Reporter, stating that “Kocawa offers Korean content, available in several territories outside Korea. KCP has partnerships with leading content aggregators in different territories. Kocawa supports both SVoD and AVoD business models.”

There are minimal details surrounding the launch of Kocawa, which stands for Korean content wave, but KCP does state it has struck global partnerships with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Viki, DramaFever, On Demand Korea, and DramaBeans.

KCP refers to its business model as “Platform in Platform” (PIP), claiming to be the world’s first PIP OTT service. It says this model allows it to bypass the more traditional method of distribution, and instead provide virtual access to its content for other OTT service partners.

Kaltura elaborated on this to Faultline Online Reporter: “PIP means that KCP distributors will use content hosted solely in KCP data centers, allowing KCP maximum control over its assets and ensuring content distribution according to KCP’s high standards.”

This essentially means that Netflix and other aforementioned partners will be delivering content to their paying subscribers from KCP data centers, rather than their own. It echoes similarities to the server appliance Netflix rolled out in 2014, a box containing almost its entire content catalog which ISPs could plug into their data centers, to ease the dispute of throttling and peering issues.

It’s impressive that the 7-month old KCP has managed to strike partnerships with two of the world’s largest video service providers Netflix and Amazon already. Perhaps there is also scope for KCP’s three parent companies to flip this model on its head, by distributing Netflix or Amazon content on their home-grown services, where both US giants are struggling to win over hordes of subscribers.

On the technology side of the deal, the Kaltura TV Platform provides an end-to-end OTT system covering content preparation, DRM, analytics, personalization, and front-end applications. The Kocawa project also brought in the assistance of Silicon Valley-based analytics firm Streamlyzer, to supply a system for monitoring video data at an individual level, allowing KCP to quickly respond to technical issues or audience behavior changes.

Kunhee Park, CTO at KCP, said, “it was clear to us that we needed to team up with technology vendors that have proven OTT expertise to ensure that we launch the most advanced online TV experience in Korea. Kaltura and Streamlyzer fit the bill with their seamless integration and live deployments at tier-1 players worldwide.”

Kaltura Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Ron Yekutiel, said, “in today’s TV landscape, telcos and media companies can’t afford to lag behind – they must constantly monitor their services and ensure they provide the best features and functionality to their users, on the devices of their choice, and with flawless performance. This is what the powerful combination of Kaltura and Streamlyzer provides to the market.”

Steve Song, Streamlyzer CRO, added, “our real-time intelligence is critical for optimizing system performance, ensuring there is no buffering or downtime, and learning detailed information about each end-user enabling customers to provide personalized content and service to their audience.”