[qi:_newteevee] Hollywood take note: Sony Pictures is the sixth (and final) major movie studio to pull up stakes in South Korea, where blazing fast, ubiquitous broadband has sucker-punched the market for DVD sales and rentals, NewTeeVee reports today. In Korea, where average broadband penetration rate by household hit 90.1 percent last year (and in Seoul reached 107.8 percent), nearly 50 percent of Internet users say they download movies, and the typical users is downloading about a movie a week. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, DVD sales have more than halved between 2008 and 2002, and rental shops feel to a third of their 2001 numbers by the end of 2007.
But here’s the real zinger: In the face of ubiquitous broadband, DVDs won’t be replaced by other physical formats or even VOD services, but by the cloud. At the center of the Korean downloading craze are web-based storage solutions — so-called “webhard” services — originally popularized by LG. Today, there are dozens of vendors, with some offering up to 1 Terabyte of storage space for free. The services are monetized through priority access points that guarantee higher speeds. Rather than fighting the trend, Korean film studios are joining the cloud and starting a webhard-based movie download service by the end of the year.