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Korean contents

Naver to enter strategic partnership with BTS label

Jan 22, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

BTS topped Billboard's Hot 100 list three times last year.
BTS topped Billboard's Hot 100 list three times last year.


South Korea’s internet giant Naver Corp. plans to enter into a strategic partnership with Big Hit Entertainment Co., the label behind K-pop sensation BTS, to join forces to compete in the rapidly growing fan community platform market.

The two companies are fine-tuning the details of the share swap partnership, such as the investment size, according to the IT industry on Jan. 22. The official announcement is expected to be Wednesday, Jan. 27 .

Naver, which runs K-pop streaming platform V Live, hopes to maximize collaboration opportunities with Big Hit’s fan community platform Weverse. 

The online fan community platform market has been growing rapidly since early last year as face-to-face concerts and contact between artists and fans became virtually impossible due to the pandemic.

On the fan community platforms, artists share exclusive posts or clips of their daily activities. This is often self-made, original content. Fans can also participate by creating posts or leaving comments and thus engage in real-time interaction with their favorite artists. These platforms serve as a communication channel for global K-pop fans, making them all the more popular amid the rising K-pop trend.

Naver's V Live has become a popular hub for global K-pop fans.
Naver's V Live has become a popular hub for global K-pop fans.


Launched in 2015, Naver’s V Live has topped 100 million in downloads. As of May 2020, the platform saw its paid monthly content grow fivefold compared to the first couple of months of the year, with the content transaction value increasing by 25 times in the same period.

The Korean portal giant has been aggressive in expanding its K-pop streaming platform. Last year, it inked a deal with SM Entertainment to recruit its artists onto the V Live platform.

Big Hit’s fan platform Weverse, launched in June of last year, has also shown a sharp growth curve, thanks to the loyalty of the BTS fanbase ARMY. As of the end of 2020, Weverse reported 17 million downloads and around 4.7 million subscribers.

Weverse drew attention when it streamed BTS' online concert Map of the Soul On:E last October, pulling in over two million viewers and an estimated revenue of over 50 billion won ($45.2 million) during the two-day concert.

It also garnered praise for introducing a new paradigm, as the BTS online concert maximized the use of cutting-edge "ontact" technology – a term coined in Korea, fusing online and contact – including augmented and extended realities to create an enthralling experience for the ARMY fanbase.

"The market for fan community platforms is just now beginning to grow," said an IT industry official. "Instead of competing against each other, the two companies have decided to partner up and expand the market," the official explained.

Write to Min-ki Koo at kook@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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