August 22, 2019 11:15
Big Hit Entertainment, which manages global K-pop sensation Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, posted W200.1 billion in sales in the first half of this year, which is on par with the whole of last year, the company's CEO Bang Si-hyuk said on Wednesday (US$1=W1,204).
The figures have catapulted Big Hit to the top of Korea's music industry as they are way higher than those of the big three agencies -- SM Entertainment (W121.5 billion), YG Entertainment (W79.5 billion) and JYP Entertainment (W61.6 billion).
Big Hit held a corporate briefing on the day to explain its future business ambitions to grow into a showbiz empire.
Bang said the company will expand its current music-focused business to include all pop culture genres from film and TV shows to web-based cartoons and novels.
Big Hit recently opened Weverse, an online platform designed to replace existing fan communities. In just two months, over 2 million people have joined the service, and the number of daily active users is 800,000. It hopes that the platform will eventually become the base for BTS fans, known as "the Army." It also launched Weply, an online shop for goods, gifts and concert tickets for stars in its stable.
Big Hit has already made three documentaries featuring BTS, as well as web-based cartoons and novels. In the second half of next year, the company plans to make a TV series about BTS' journey to stardom, starting from the moment the seven members met for the first time.
Mobile game BTS World, in which users can nurture BTS members into world stars, was launched on Aug. 8, and became an instant hit. "Korea's online game market is 10 times bigger than that of K-pop," Bang said.
Big Hit is also aggressive in mergers and acquisitions. Last month it bought Source Music, which produces girl group GFriend and just on Monday, it concluded a deal to buy Superb, a company specializing in multi-platform music games.
It will move into new headquarters, a 19-story building with seven underground floors it is constructing in downtown Seoul, by the end of the year. Its employee number has almost tripled in just the last six months from 156 last year to 400.
Industry observers are generally positive about Big Hit's plans, but have pointed to its dependence on BTS as a risk factor. Lee Gyu-tag at George Mason University Korea said, "Their goal of expanding beyond the realm of K-pop is good, but their BTS-focused content could become a burden in the long term."
Music critic Kim Young-dae said, "It comes down to whether Big Hit can come up with a new idol group that can more than match BTS."
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