[Trend] Over the Top Services Overcome Boundaries

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Netflix has announced that the number of its worldwide service subscribers reached around 204 million, by the end of 2020. We can admit that to find a person who has never been exposed to a show from Netflix is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The way media was once consumed is being completely swept away by the big wave of the Over the Top Service. OTT as an acronym, the term ‘top’ stands for a set top box, which interprets OTT as ‘a service that goes over and beyond a set top box.’ Streaming platforms that bring various contents directly to their subscribers through the internet can be referred to as OTT services. Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, or Wavve, Watcha, and Tving and more all fall into this category.

Some may believe that Netflix, as the king of the OTT market, will continue to rule the world of streaming service. However, even Netflix might become out of fashion in this ever-expanding field of internet-based streaming businesses. For instance, Disney launched its own OTT service named Disney+ (Disney Plus) in 2019. The online commerce giant Amazon also entered the scene with its own Amazon Prime Video service. Acquisition with powerful corporations and the offer of shopping advantages to the members, the world of OTT is becoming a more compelling industry. Now that Disney+ is scheduled to land in Korea in 2021, the demand for a better OTT service skyrockets day by day.

This would be one of the main catalysts which make world-wide OTT platforms create their own unique productions called ‘Originals.’ Such exclusive stories can distinguish their service from what the rival companies bring out. Moreover, viewers nowadays genuinely possess the power to influence the media with their own opinions due to the variety of selection OTT provides. Now, people feel reluctant to passively receive everything the media presents. As social issues involving the equality for all human beings’ rights become more accented in movie industry, more people wish to listen to stories the traditional media hesitated to display. To make up for the negative impact on culture the entertainment business perpetuated through its misogynistic and biased productions, numerous movies today are keeping up not only with the trend of mass culture but also with the distinctive tastes of various individuals. Female directors, multicultural casts, and LGBTQ+ communities are coming up on the new stage of the media.

The value on diversity in movie creations is being actively intensified all across the globe, even behind the scenes. Examples of the diversified originality can be seen in a number of productions. The casting of Bridgerton, one of Netflix’s recent biggest Original hit series, boldly disobeyed racial factors of the historical play. Through what’s called an ‘inclusion lens,’ Vernā Myers, the president of Inclusion Strategy Department in Netflix, encourages her employees to always keep in mind who’s missing from the scene. Their tactic for multicultural work environment aims to construct new stage for people who were often excluded from the scene due to the invisible barrier which existed in the Hollywood film industry since the beginning.

Furthermore, Netflix even connects with numerous local producers from different regions in order to create productions that suit the appetite of diverse cultures better. With the service’s initial arrival to South Korea in 2016, Netflix chose a recognized director Bong Joon-ho as a director for their first Korean Original movie. The movie Okja was able to strengthen the subscribership from even more countries, since the originality of Korean language was able to appeal to more viewers from Korea. Additionally, Netflix reached another peak of subscription rate thanks to their recent Original series Sweet Home; which was based on a popular Naver Webtoon. The company’s attitude to actively learn what would actually attract the viewers from different cultures was acclaimed as an effective strategy that contributed to its success.

Will the future of media rattle the time-honored movie cinema after all? The vastness of the OTT market will only continue to go beyond the limit; but the truth is that it didn’t take a toll on the theater industry as much as we think. As an analysis ‘Movie Trend Report 2019’ initiated by Open Survey reveals, the relationship between OTT and movie theaters is actually more like a supplement to each other, rather than a rival. OTT functions as an open window for more movies to be exposed that people may have missed during the time it premiered in theaters. Series of films on OTT which are expecting additional sequels get to be promoted through the service.

With these revolutionary changes in media consumption, audiences will not be the only ones leaning forward to the screen; content creators will also approach to viewers to develop heroines and relatable characters that more people can idolize. OTT services have overcome boundaries by housing a number of distant cultures on one online platform. Being a square where cultures and languages are freely shared, development of the Over-the-Top streaming service will not only expand entertainment industry but also bring cultural evolution to next generations.

By Cho Yoonji Reporter

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