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South Korean net gets off the ground

Despite a perceived dip in the worldwide broadcaster appetite for anime (see 'Made in Japan', p. 93 for more details), in South Korea the competition for young fans is fierce. With a seemingly unquenchable thirst for animated fare, a bevy of networks are looking to specialize and carve out their own demo within the broader sphere.
October 1, 2006

Despite a perceived dip in the worldwide broadcaster appetite for anime (see ‘Made in Japan’, p. 93 for more details), in South Korea the competition for young fans is fierce. With a seemingly unquenchable thirst for animated fare, a bevy of networks are looking to specialize and carve out their own demo within the broader sphere.

Animax Korea, a joint venture between Sony Pictures Television International and Korea Digital Satellite Broadcasting (KDSB), launched in April 2006 and airs 24/7 exclusively on KDSB’s platform SkyLife. Approximately 1.9 million subscribers dole out around US$20 a month each to receive the service. Its mandate is to showcase local and Japan-produced anime programming, and has been hailed as the largest exclusively anime network in the world.

Sang-Im Kim, director of programming and marketing for the network, says the net is looking to build upon its success with a slightly older demo than its competition.

‘We are targeting youth and young adults,’ she says, ‘unlike most of the other local animation channels [that] are targeting just kids.’

Animax Korea’s main competition is from 24-hour cartoon nets including Tooniverse, Champ and Ani-one. The latter is Animax’s biggest rival, and is currently besting the net in the ratings race.

Currently, the broadcaster is happy with the success of a number of its programs including the locally produced Black Rubber Shoes, a historical look at South Korea in the 1930s, and Bern and Blood, a 50-episode drama that tells the story of a girl whose destiny lies in fighting a gang of monsters.

However, looking forward to its second year of operation, Kim says the net will bolster its three main programming blocks that include an early morning kids block, a prime block in the afternoon for teens and a premium block in the evening that skews older towards youth and young adult.

To this end, the net has purchased the Japanese hit Honey & Clover, a romantic look at collegiate life; well-known manga property Paradise Kiss, about a teenage girl’s unbelievable adventure in the world of high fashion; and Fate/Stay Night, a 24-ep fantasy series. And to keep momentum going, Kim is on the lookout for titles for next year, including international properties. Specifically for the morning kid’s block, the net has purchased a handful of local animated series but will also be keeping an eye out for European and American products to import.

With the latest ratings showing a 0.2 for Animax in August, Kim knows that the network has a ways to go to maximize its viewership. Currently, the ratings show Animax fluctuating between 10th and 15th rank out of the 80 channels on the platform. At first glance, this would seem to be a tenable situation, but Kim is hoping that in 2007 Animax will overtake Ani-One and become the nation’s number one 24/7 animation network.

‘We will continue to concentrate on youth,’ she says. ‘We believe there is a (niche) in the youth market. We also hope that young adults who read comics will come to our channel to watch animation.’

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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