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Baby Shark becomes first YouTube video to surpass 10 bn views

Pinkfong's revenue soared from $8 million in 2015 to $57 million in 2020

By Jan 14, 2022 (Gmt+09:00)

Pinkfong's record-setting Baby Shark video was produced in 2016, and catapulted to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon within a couple of years. 
Pinkfong's record-setting Baby Shark video was produced in 2016, and catapulted to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon within a couple of years. 


Baby Shark became the first video to reach more than 10 billion views on YouTube on Jan 13. This milestone follows the same video becoming the most-viewed YouTube video of all time with seven billion views in Nov 2020.

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” was the previous record-holder but Baby Shark surpassed it by over two billion views. 

South Korean homegrown content is gaining popularity around the globe – from K-pop songs, Squid Game on Netflix, and now even children's content. 

In the 2 minute 16 second video, children are singing along and dancing to the song. To put the total view count into perspective, it is equivalent to the entire world population (7.8 billion) having watched it at least once. As for the accumulated total watchtime (43,000 years), it is equivalent to the video being played from the Paleolithic era until now.

In an interview with The Korea Economic Daily, Pinkfong Vice President and CFO Lee Seung-kyu said, “When we first made the content, we did not expect it to gain such huge popularity.” He added, “The simple yet catchy tunes, easy-to-follow choreography, and colorful characters seem the reasons behind the worldwide attention.”

Source: Pinkfong Baby Shark - Kids' Songs & Stories on YouTube


HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Formerly SMARTSTUDY, the company developed the Baby Shark song and characters in 2015 with an eye to expand into the overseas market.

Based on an American copyright-free children’s rhyme, the Baby Shark song is created by adding a repeated chorus and a new beat. The record-setting YouTube video was produced in 2016, and catapulted to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon within a couple of years. 

Lee said the #babysharkchallenge in Indonesia in 2017 gave a major boost to its popularity. With Indonesian fans sharing their own videos of dancing to the song on various social media platforms, the number of subscribers to Pinkfong’s YouTube channel surged 300%. Following the jump, the company launched an aggressive overseas marketing campaign. 

Filippina nannies are the hidden heroes of Baby Shark’s worldwide popularity, the company revealed. Many of them introduced the song and dance to the United States and Europe when working in those regions. 

In the American capital of Washington D.C., Baby Shark became the Washington Nationals’ anthem in the 2019 season and its World Series run. In the same year, a group of protesters in Lebanon began singing Baby Shark to soothe a 15-month-old baby amid the noise and disorder. 

The platform choice also worked in its favor. Pinkfong created some 500 to 600 videos a year and has been posting them on YouTube consistently. Approximately 5,000 videos are available in 20 languages. Its 54.8 million subscribers are from 244 countries and the accumulated total number of views for all its video has reached 50 billion.

Following this strategy, the Korean startup's revenue soared from 9.5 billion won ($8 million) in 2015 to 67.7 billion won ($57 million) in 2020.

On the back of this trend, the company is in a rapid expansion mode. Lee said, “In addition to Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, we recently established a Singapore office.” He added the fourth overseas location will serve as its foothold in Southeast Asia.

The Pinkfong company is also working to bolster its intellectual property rights. Lee said the company is testing some short-form content and choosing the best performers among them, from there it will create longer-form content. 

Within the first half of this year, it will release three-dimensional content with human-like characters and an animated video featuring dinosaurs. 

That is not all. The Seoul-based content creator also plans to expand its foothold beyond educational content for kids to enter the rapidly growing business of webtoons and web fiction, as well as sports. 

Write to Hee-Kyung Kim at hkkim@hankyung.com

Jee Abbey Lee edited this article.

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