Local IT giant Naver announced plans Thursday to make its Naver TV service an open platform where anybody can freely upload videos, pitting it in direct competition with YouTube. The company said it would apply the change during this year’s first half. Originally, only people with more than 300 subscribers on other video platforms were permitted to create a channel on Naver TV.

Unlike YouTube, considered the playground of individual creators, most traffic at Naver TV is to come from short videos from TV shows uploaded by broadcasting or cable channels, like TvN or JTBC. Lowering the bar is intended to draw in the legions of individual creators who have begun to emerge in Korea over the last two years.

“Naver TV was originally focused on offering video from TV for users that flow in via our search engine,” said a company spokesperson.

“We gradually had small- or mid-sized studios upload web dramas or famous beauty creators joining our platform and by that experience we learned the patterns of how original content is consumed. Now we want to make it accessible to more creators.”

Last week, Naver lowered the bar to 100 subscribers and simplified the process required to set up a channel, as a first step to earn feedback and find areas that need improvement before fully opening the door to everyone.

As a strategy to boost users, Naver is devising a compensation system to reward creators according to their performance. Channels with more than 300 subscribers and whose videos were played for more than 300 hours will be offered the choice to roll advertisements.

Naver CEO Han Seong-sook publicly stressed the importance of online videos multiple times last year, expressing a will to develop that sector.

“The internet market is rapidly restructuring to be centered on videos – Naver will also invest more in line with this change,” she said in a conference call in July, pointing out how the younger generation no longer spends time on portal sites or social networks, but on video platforms.

Naver’s traditional strengths are not in video but other services, such as its search engine, blogs and online communities. Regardless, the company has invested in its video services. Apart from Naver TV, its other main video service is V LIVE – a platform via which K-pop idols can host live streamed videos with fans. Around 70 to 80 percent of users at V LIVE are based overseas.

“Instead of running a single platform like YouTube, our direction at the moment is to divide platforms according to usage and optimize the service that fits their respective purposes – V LIVE for fans and Naver TV for general creators,” said the Naver spokesman.

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