BUSINESS IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
AN INSIGHT INTO BIG HIT’S 2H CORPORATE BRIEFING WITH THE COMMUNITY, Part 2
Welcome ARMY! If you missed part one of this blog, please check it out here. Let’s proceed with part two.
For the next segment, the General Manager of Big Hit Three Sixty, DJ Kim, took over to discuss content branding, where different types of content get created with the direct involvement of their artists (mostly made during the artists’ tours). Big Hit developed their own in-house creative team in 2011 for producing this content with a strategy that seemed to predict its necessity.
DJ Kim broke down the timeline of creation for original content, starting with the debut of BTS in 2013 and the popular YouTube series “Bangtan Bomb”, which goes behind the scenes with BTS in their studios and homes. Then there's their online variety show, RUN BTS, available for free on Weverse and VLive, which shows the off-stage and more genuine sides of BTS.
In the paid variety shows category, there’s Bon Voyage, which follows BTS as they explore different countries each season. The format is reminiscent of travel themed TV shows. The new variety show titled BTS In The Soop, which has premiered five episodes as of this blog, films BTS relaxing and participating in various activities.
DJ Kim explained that for content like Burn The Stage, Bring The Soul, and Break The Silence, they have a documentary production team accompany BTS throughout their tours. During their rehearsals, in hotels, or before their concerts, BTS shares their heartfelt thoughts. They record performances and edit it all together in the form of a docuseries, which is then edited into a movie for release in cinemas.
“What makes Big Hit focus on content branding strategy so much?”, asks Mr. Kim. “Big Hit imbues each content with a clear cut identity. Variety shows, documentaries, reality shows… the fans know right away how the artists will be depicted in each type of content, and look forward to seeing them. These series are released continuously and regularly. In doing so, fan expectations for a particular content brand keeps rising. Based on the expectations of the fans and the production capabilities, Big Hit is able to come up with quality series of works that can rival those of any production company.” This huge catalogue of content would not have lasted without fan approval.
TECHNOLOGY: THE CORE OF BIG HIT
President of beNX, Mr. Seo Wooseok, began the next segment about the core of Big Hit. He first went over Weverse, a multipurpose platform (online fan community + social media + video library + e-commerce), which hit 10 million downloads rather quickly and gradually improved the fan experience, including the inconvenience of merch shopping.
In March of this year, Fast Company, a U.S. business media outlet, chose Big Hit as the fourth “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies 2020” following Snap, Microsoft, and Tesla, with Weverse as its focus.
While most of the industry has had to pause it’s activities, Weverse stood the test of time according to Mr. Yoon. They hosted two major virtual concerts that proved the platform was up to the challenges it would have to face. The first was BANG BANG CON, a two day virtual event that played BTS’ previous concerts and fan meetings, held on April 18th and 19th. It was the first time lightsticks were able to be used for such an event, thanks to the developers at beNX.
The event recorded a total of 50.59 million viewers across 162 countries and regions in over 24 hours.
BANG BANG CON: The Live was held on June 14, a day after the 7th anniversary of BTS’ debut. Fans went through Weverse to buy tickets for the event as well as order merch in a streamlined, convenient fashion.
The merch for Bang Bang Con was made available four days before the “Ontact” event. The results were exemplary, with 756,000 viewers tuning in from 107 regions at the same time and 746,000 pieces of merchandise being sold. The audience was 15 times larger than that of an offline concert. This was thanks to Kiswe, a global IT company. The Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized the event for breaking the record of most viewership for an online concert.
Another highlight of this briefing was the news that on October 10th and 11th, MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E, an online and offline concert will be held, where BTS will perform the songs from their album MAP OF THE SOUL:7. Big Hit later released a statement on Weverse informing audiences that due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Seoul, the logistics of this concert will be considered while they observe the situation.
EDUCATION: AN IDOL COMPANY’S FIRST TRYST
It’s a well-known fact that a lot of fans make attempts to understand the artists forming their parasocial relationships, especially if those artists are from different countries. The first step is generally to familiarize yourself with the language they use, but learning a new language is a struggle for many people.
This is where Big Hit, through their new branch, Big Hit Edu, are trying to make the process of getting over the language barrier easier by providing Korean educational content. The new content, Learn! KOREAN With BTS, has aired 26 episodes so far and has 2.19 million people watching each episode at least 4.3 million times, with most of the views coming from the U.S, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan. Because of its success, Big Hit came up with another educational package under the same title with more emphasis in learning.
The new textbook package is for beginners and medium-level learners. The books were curated by educational experts from Hanguk University and come with exciting goodies like a speaking pen, two Hangul keyboard stickers, and a small study note (1st edition only). The book’s illustrations focus on the character Bora, who learns Korean while exploring Korea. The textbooks will be used in universities who have partnerships with Big Hit.
LITERATURE: A NEW ADDITION TO TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING
Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa (HYYH, or The Most Beautiful Moment in Life), the starting point of the BTS Universe, expanded to literature last year with the release of HYYH Notes 1. Its sequel was released on August 25th of 2020, expanding on the stories of seven friends on a journey for the map of the soul.
The last part of the briefing was about their subsidiary, Superb’s, new venture. Their new mobile rhythm game will be released in the fourth quarter of this year. This game offers a multiplayer system that’ll allow fans to play together. Another game from Netmarble will be released later this year, BTS Universe Story, a sandbox game that lets fans put together their own stories.
Through this briefing, we got some insight into the ambitious plans Big Hit Entertainment has for the remainder of the year. At the end of the briefing, Mr. Bang Sihyuk mentioned Harvard’s Business Review in which they focused on the artist training system and its philosophy. The research paper said Big Hit strives to strike a balance between the system’s efficiency and their artists’ individuality.
This is what the company has been doing since the beginning. The reason why they were able to create this balance is because of their drive to achieve sincerity. Since February, most of their staff have been working from home, gradually getting used to communicating with each other remotely. If even within this pandemic they are able to maintain that balance, then perhaps Big Hit really has developed a “winning formula for success”.
Let us know your favorite part of the corporate briefing. What are you most excited for as we enter the last quarter of the year?