Back in October, live video streaming platform Ustream announced a partnership with KT Corporation — a leading telecommunications provider in South Korea. The joint venture also included an additional $10 million funding round, much of it led by the sizable Japanese telecom provider, Softbank (whose independent by closely-connected VC firm, Softbank Capital, operates in Boston, among other cities). The funding brought Ustream’s total outside investment close to $60 million.
Both the additional capital from Softbank and the partnership with KT Corporation came in the anticipation of Ustream’s launch in Korea, and today the streaming video provider is finally ready to officially announce its new Korean language service and portal, Ustream Korea .
Ustream Korea is the second non-English platform that the company has released, after its Japanese-only version, which launched back in January of 2010, headed by Ustream Asia CEO, Tomotaka Nakagawa. In partnership with KT Corp. and Ustream Asia, Ustream announced that Jimmy Kim would become the new CEO of its Korean entity in January of this year. Kim previously served as the Vice President at Viacom International, and has also worked with CNBC, Technicolor and Bloomberg Television.
The joint venture will also allow Ustream to expand its text-based social network experience in South Korea, which is to include a live, interactive experience, says Ustream’s Social Media Manager, Tony Riggins. At the outset, Ustream Korea will offer content like, the “Penguin Cam,” which airs live from SeaWorld in San Diego, as well as its live AP news channel, and events like the Olleh Smartphone movie festival and Indi Band Awards.
Ustream Korea will include all of Ustream’s established features, including co-hosting video, IRC chat, customizable channels, embeddable player, and viewing content in realtime directly from mobile devices, smart TVs, etc. Korean pop stars like Wonder-Girls and Park Jae Bum got an opportunity to test out the platform earlier this year in advance of its official launch, and obviously Ustream will be making a push to sign up more of these influencers in the coming months.
As Ustream Japan has established actual TV studios across the country (there are currently 12), which broadcast everything from news to messages from celebrities and advertising, along with the ability for anyone using the Ustream Asia platform to stop in and broadcast content, the company will no doubt be looking to establish a similar mix of TV and user-generated content in Korea.
Ustream Asia has already seen brands like NHK, Starbucks, and Nikkei come on board as partners, and there are plans to use Ustream Korea in a similar vein — both as a PR and marketing platform. In addition, KT Corp and other local Korean firms have said that they will launch new products and services using Ustream, along with blasting out those realtime, multimedia press releases.
As of February, Ustream had 14.2 million registered users and saw 29 million social stream messages created and 2 billion viewers access its content across the Web and mobile. According to Quantcast, 54.5 million people tune into Ustream every month.
Ustream continues to make moves to expand its presence in Asia, and has smartly been doing so with the help of major telecom providers. The service has seen growing traction there, and these country and language-specific platforms stand to give the service a boost, and though the team wouldn’t comment on whether or not China is next, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ustream pop up in additional fast-growing Asian markets over the course of the year.
For more, check out the new Korean platform here.