A rocky start for Wavve as it started as a new video streaming service launched by SK Telecom in coordination with three major TV broadcasters – KBS, MBC, and SBS. Users complained of lack of enjoyable content and poor streaming quality.
The broadcasters and the mobile carrier aimed to take on the streaming giant Netflix by launching the unified platform on September 18. Wavve combined the media companies’ Pooq streaming service with SKT’s Oksusu streaming service.
The companies’ joint venture said that to secure more than 5 million paid subscribers, and annual sales of 500 billion won, it will invest 300 billion won ($250 million) by 2023.
However, Wavve received a response far less than what the companies expected from users. The streaming service acquired more than 5 million downloads through Google’s Play Store app but only scored by some 28,000 users with 2.2 out of 5.
The bulk of complaints from Wavve users are having unstable service quality. Videos load slowly or keep buffering, and that the subscribers are unable to access media from cable channels such as JTBC and tvN.
Other users say that they cannot enjoy free TV shows or movies offered in Oksusu even if they have purchased a high-price SK Telecom plan.
“Compared to Tving ― another streaming service operated by CJ ENM ― I am getting distorted images and buffering issues. I am subscribing to a full HD service, but it feels like I am watching videos with standard (SD) quality resolution,” a Wavve user posted on the Google Play app store.
Another user said that the Wavve service has a poor service quality in comparison with Oksusu.
“Wavve is better than Oksusu for offering live programs of major broadcasters, but it is inconvenient that I am not able to use some of the services I enjoyed with Oksusu. Even though I wasn’t subscribed to Oksusu, I could enjoy free movies or TV shows, but there’s no such content on Wavve,” the user wrote.
Wavve remarked that it has heard and acknowledged the grievances of the users and added it would offer better services to its users.
A Wavve official said, “As our service is based on Pooq, many Oksusu users are dissatisfied with Wavve because it feels unfamiliar. We have acknowledged that we have received a disappointing response and we will try to offer a more enhanced service.”
The official added, “Unlike Oksusu, which had aggressively conducted marketing activities with free movies or shows, we are enabling users to enjoy more than 1,000 movies if they pay a monthly subscription fee of at least 7,900 won ($6.60).”
Wavve added it would focus more on releasing its original content much like Netlfix. “The Tale of Nokdu” a romantic comedy-drama is scheduled to launch at the end of September.
“Wavve invested 100 percent in its original drama ‘The Tale of Nokdu.’ Wavve users who pay their monthly subscription fee will be able to enjoy the drama starting September 30 and to let more consumers know about our service; the drama will be aired on KBS TV as well,” the Wavve official said.
Experts suggested that the Wavve streaming service can be seen as a leader of the streaming service market if it improves its service quality and come up with more attractive original content.
“Currently, Wavve has garnered about 1 million paid subscribers. Based on SK Telecom’s competitiveness in mobile service and content development capability of the broadcasters, Wavve aims to improve the number of paid users. It remains to be seen whether it can offer attractive original contents or not and ‘The Tale of Nokdu’ will become a test case for that,” Hwang Sung-jin, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities, said.