Kocca unveils ambitious plan to increase funding for OTT content

President Jo Hyun-rae of the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca) speaks during a press briefing on Dec. 20 at the CKL Business Center in Jung District, central Seoul. [KOCCA]

The Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca) took a look back on the agency’s achievements in 2022 and announced its plans for 2023, including an ambitious goal to increase funding for over-the-top (OTT) dramas from 1.5 billion won ($1,151,500) to 3 billion won.

President Jo Hyun-rae, Strategy Innovation Division Director Park Kyung-ja, Communication PR Team Director Byun Mi-young and Innovation Task Force Team (TFT) Director Park In-nam attended Kocca’s press briefing on Tuesday at the CKL Business Center in Jung District, central Seoul.

The Korean content industry, ranging from video games to K-dramas, saw 136 trillion won in sales and 13.5 billion dollars in exports in 2021. The government in response set economic growth through K-content and the expansion of cultural appeal as core tasks.

“We’ve been operating under the motto that things that need change must change,” he said. “Through constant communication with the content industry, Kocca has been striving to narrow the gap between what we expect and what support the industry actually needs.”

Innovation TFT was established in July and set five strategies and 21 tasks as Kocca’s priorities. The first was to slim down the organization. Fragmented teams have been merged into larger departments for efficient operation. Similar or overlapping projects have also been merged; 31 departments have been reduced by 30 percent to 23, and the number of people appointed to office within the agency was reduced by 20 percent, from 44 to 35.

The volume of financial support is also set to increase significantly, at least for drama series on OTT streaming platforms.

“We said let’s up the ante for OTT content,” said Jo. “The limit on funding for broadcast production [which encompasses television and OTT] has been 1.5 billion won, but for OTT drama series, we will increase that limit to 3 billion won. Other fields will also see increased funding, even if we see fewer projects we aim to increase support that goes to each project.”

According to the Innovation TFT Director Park, Kocca plans to support funding for 17 drama series (maximum 3 billion won each) and 10 non-drama series (approximately 400 million won each) next year. Kocca’s budget for the next fiscal year has not been confirmed yet, but it is expected that the government will pass 620 billion won for the agency — 80 billion more compared to last year, “especially seeing an increase in OTT content and projects overseas,” according to Jo.

President Jo Hyun-rae of the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca) speaks during a press briefing on Dec. 20 at the CKL Business Center in Jung District, central Seoul. [KOCCA]

The evaluation criteria to select the recipients of Kocca’s financial support will also undergo drastic changes. One of them is an additional point system for content companies that previously won at a competition held by Kocca. If said firm applies for Kocca’s business support projects afterward, it will be allocated additional points at the document screening process. Kocca aims to accelerate the growth of outstanding firms through this new system.

Kocca will establish a data center to better adjust its business support policies based on big data and statistics, and the agency will also seek expert voices from outside the agency for better evaluation in funding selection.

“[Korean content companies] have to compete in the international market, not just in the domestic market,” said Jo. “So we are going to expand support for firms, especially small and medium-sized ones, that create content that is competitive enough for the former. That is the growth engine for a sustainable K-content industry.”

At the same time, Kocca will introduce a quota system to strengthen its support of young talents.

“It is mandatory that 30 percent of the firms newly selected to receive funding must be run by a young person [up to 39],” Jo said. “We hope to give them more opportunities and create jobs for youths. This is especially important considering that young firms lead many innovative content projects like serious games or documentary productions.”

“K-content has seen astonishing growth, but it is constantly facing challenges as the global industry continues to change,” Jo said. “We dearly feel the need for a change to the promotion and support systems that can respond to such changes. Through bold innovations, Kocca will support the sustainable growth of K-content and lead Korea to become a culturally appealing nation.”