Internet Broadcasting Gaining Momentum amid Expanding User Base

Article excerpt

Internet broadcasting is gaining momentum as the high-speed connection infrastructure steadily spreads across the nation, while online startups and medial firms are eager to take their place in the next-generation broadcasting market.

The number of amateur and commercial stations in Korea is estimated to reach about 300, up from 200 late last year and 50 in 1998.

In its initial stages, Internet broadcasting mainly centered on music webcasts but the variety has increased at a dramatic pace in recent months.

Ranging from stock-only broadcasting stations to a trading exhibition buff channel, the scope of online stations is expanding into almost every sector.

Heating up the market further is the competition being staged by major broadcasting firms including MBC, KBS and SBS.

Last year, SBS outpaced its competitors by spinning off its Internet subsidiary as a strategic platform to push into e-commerce and video- on-demand services.

KBS is also operating an Internet channel (www.crezio.co.kr) in concert with Korea Telecom, the state-run telecom giant which has a monopolistic control over the telecommunications infrastructure including high-speed networks, a precondition for smooth webcasts.

Conglomerates are also scrambling to position themselves advantageously with unprecedented fervor. Samsung Corp. has launched an entertainment channel (www.doobob.com).

The Hanwha Group is also planning to open an entertainment channel in partnership with KTB, a venture capital group, around May this year.

The Hyundai Group is also known to have started preparations to set up Internet broadcasting station, albeit belatedly compared with other conglomerates.

The toughest battle, meantime, is taking place in the telecommunications sector. Telecom outfits are maximizing their infrastructure in developing high-quality digital multimedia contents in the hope of reaping profits when Internet broadcasting takes off.

Thrunet, a cable-based Internet service provider, has set its eyes on Internet broadcasting by setting up its own studios and teaming up with contents providers.

Dreamline, another ISP, is strengthening the contents of its community site (www.dreamx.net) to turn it into a web station with music, movie, sports and game.

Hanaro Telecom Inc., a fixed-line operator, and SBS have agreed to establish a Web venture firm to crack the entertainment contents broadcasting market. …