AfreecaTV aims to outdo YouTube

By Park Hyung-ki

Improved technical services, functions to boost Korean mobile broadcaster

  • Published : Feb 5, 2014 - 20:05
  • Updated : Feb 5, 2014 - 20:05
Jung Chan-yong. (AfreecaTV COO)

New media has ushered in a new era where anyone can produce and broadcast content, and become a star instantly.

Easier access to the Internet, high-quality cameras and editing software have made video production and distribution simple, allowing platforms such as Google’s YouTube and Korea-based AfreecaTV to gain ground over traditional media.

The two share similarities as video-sharing sites and have proven to be effective in marketing brands and stars, as seen from Korean rapper Psy’s “Gangnam Style” success on YouTube and broadcast jockeys such as “meokbang” on AfreecaTV. Meokbang, which means “broadcast eating,” refers to people who host live shows of themselves eating for hours on AfreecaTV.

Jung Chan-yong, chief operating officer of AfreecaTV, said the main difference between the two was that AfreecaTV was more interactive, and creates fan-based communities and ecosystems.

“We have to be more than just a content delivery platform to differentiate ourselves from others like YouTube or traditional broadcast media,” Jung, also the company’s senior vice president, told The Korea Herald.

“The platform not only allows users to upload content but also participate as hosts of live shows or sporting events and chat real-time with viewers. This environment enables them and their fans to create communities and ecosystems.”

YouTube, which works like a video library where anyone can upload, search and view content, on the other hand, only allows visitors to write comments or post reply videos.

Jung added that its goal was to widen its doors to let more ordinary people to come in and show what they can do anytime and anywhere while making money at the same time ― viewers can “donate” to the program producers ― explaining that the company would do this by adding unique functions that let visitors “multitask” while viewing content.

It also plans to use the concept of big data to provide recommended content for viewing to its users when they log in by the end of this month.

“We seek to improve our services technologically so that the platform can stay attractive and different in this mobile age of rapid changes,” COO Jung said.

The emergence of mobile technology has, in fact, given AfreecaTV a boost that it needed over YouTube, which benefited from the rise of fast-speed Internet connection and personal computers, analysts said.

Source: Digieco, Nielsen Korea, Woori Investment, 2013

YouTube remains the leader in Korea with a 17 percent mobile market share locally, but AfreecaTV is rapidly catching up, with more than 16 percent market share as of last year, according to various data.

“AfreecaTV is already higher than YouTube, though, in terms of duration of visit by mobile users,” said Jung.

This in large part thanks to many tech-savvy young Korean users turning to AfreecaTV, which offers more functions favorable in this mobile environment than YouTube.

“The local company would soon outstrip YouTube as AfreecaTV looks more appealing to mobile users,” said Choi Sung-hwan, analyst at Yu Hwa Securities.

However, Jung said that the differences between two live video streaming sites make it possible for them to form a “win-win partnership” in content sharing, as YouTube is still a global platform through which AfreecaTV and its users or content producers can reach a wider audience.

By Shin Ji-hye (