[Photo by YG Entertainment]
BTS label Big Hit Entertainment gained major traction in its global drive through equity-backed partnership with South Korea’s internet major Naver Corp. and K-pop name YG Entertainment.
Naver on Wednesday signed to purchase a 49 percent stake in beNX, the fan community running subsidiary of BTS’ label Big Hit Entertainment, for 410 billion won ($368 million).
Big Hit on the same day approved a 70 billion won investment plan placing 40 billion won in beNX and another 30 billion won in YG Plus, the investment arm of another major Korean label YG Entertainment.
Shares of Big Hit rose 6 percent to end at 220,000 won on Thursday on the news of its bulk-up. Naver stock added 4 percent to 355,000 won, while Kosdaq-listed YG fell 6.7 percent to 47,050 won.
Under the agreement, the three companies will enter into a strategic alliance to combine their efforts in platform, distribution and content development. YG Plus will transfer its global membership operations to Big Hit’s fan community platform Weverse that becomes integrated with Naver V Live Streaming within the year to launch a fan community for artists of both entertainment houses from BTS to Blackpink.
Kim Joo-kwan, who currently heads V Live and Naver’s other group communities, will be named Chief Technology Officer of beNX.
Naver’s V Live took off in 2015 and last year hit 100 million downloads. It now runs 1,603 channels for Korean pop artists.
Big Hit’s Weverse has also shown rapid growth on the back of BTS’ global fan base Army. As of December 2020, it logged 17 million downloads and 19.2 million subscribers and had more than 117 million postings. Weverse operates on a membership basis and sells concert tickets and other merchandise.
[Photo by Big Hit Entertainment]
The partnership between entertainment platform companies is expected to not only create synergy among local entertainment companies but also enhance competitivity of K-conteny on the global stage.
Naver has been eyeing the potential of online concerts in the pandemic era. BTS’ online concert, “Map of the Soul ON:E,” which took place in October 2020, drew 990,000 viewers worldwide to generate an estimated revenue of 54 billion won. This was far more successful than the boyband’s offline concert, “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself (The Final)” in October 2019, which garnered a crowd of 150,000 and raked in 13.2 billion won.
SM Entertainment’s Beyond Live streaming concert also helped boost the agency’s second-quarter earnings by 240 percent to 13.2 billion won.
“More than 85 percent of V Live and Weverse fans are from overseas, representing the vast potential of the fandom culture in the global market,” said Han Seong-sook, chief executive of Naver. “To broaden K-pop’s influence on the world stage, domestic platforms need to go beyond rivalry and work closely together to create business synergies.”
“Weverse has shown explosive growth since its launch in 2019 and highlighted the importance of the fan community in the global music market,” said Park Ji-won, head of Big Hit HQ. “We look forward to the synergy between Weverse and V Life that is to come from our collaboration with Naver, which we will leverage to make our fan community platform an unrivaled force in the global market.”
By Lee Dong-in, Lee Yong-ik, Kang Young-woon and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]