Big Hit Entertainment and Naver to Create New Fan Platform (2021)
Big Hit Entertainment and Naver are joining forces to create a new fan platform. Their goal is to enhance the fan-to-artist experience by merging Vlive and Weverse. Here’s what we know so far about the collaboration between Big Hit Entertainment and Naver.
Who is Big Hit Entertainment?
Big Hit Entertainment was established in 2005 by Bang Si-huyk. The first group Big Hit signed was 8Eight in 2007, however, the group disbanded and only Lee Hyun remains at the company. Big Hit briefly signed a joint management contract with JYP Entertainment for the group 2AM in 2008. In 2010, Big Hit Entertainment signed RM as a trainee and the first member of the final BTS lineup. The final lineup also includes Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The group debuted in June of 2013. 6 years after BTS, Big Hit Entertainment unveiled their next boy group, TXT. The group consists of 5 members; Soobin, HueningKai, Beomgyu, Yeonjun, and Taehyun.
Later in 2019, Big Hit acquired Source Music, home to GFriend. In 2020, Big Hit Entertainment bought a large share of Pledis Entertainment. While Pledis still operates independently from the company, artists from Pledis, including Seventeen and NU’EST are promoting overseas with Big Hit’s support. Towards the end of 2020, Big Hit announced that it had acquired rapper Zico’s company, KOZ Entertainment. These acquisitions are part of Big Hit’s plan to create a multi-label structure to bring about more collaborations and opportunities for all the artists involved. Additionally, Big Hit has invested $70 million USD into YG Entertainment’s affiliate company, YG Plus, to help promote YG’s artists like Blackpink, iKon, Big Bang, to a global audience.
As of 2020, after going public on the stock market, Big Hit Entertainment is estimated to be worth over $7.6 billion USD.
What is Naver?
Naver Corporation is a South Korean technology and software company. It operates the search engine, Naver, which is the most popular in South Korea. Naver first established its operation in 1999.
Over the years, it expanded to provide more services like Junior Naver, which is a special search engine reserved for children. Naver Webtoon is a platform for artists and authors to share their stories with readers within South Korea. In 2014, with the global demand for webtoons, Naver launched LINE Webtoon which offers translations of popular webtoon series in seven languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese Indonesian, Thai, Spanish and French. Naver is also home to VLive, a global streaming service that broadcasts a variety of programs, including concerts, reality shows, and live-stream from idols and entertainers.
Other subsidiary companies associated with Naver include LINE, SNOW, Studio N, Naver Lab. Naver recently announced that they will be acquiring Wattpad, an online forum for amateur writers to publish their stories. The market value of Naver as of January 2021 is $45 billion USD.
What are Vlive and Weverse?
Naver launched VLive in 2015 with the goal of reaching international fans, specifically from China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. It has over 1 million downloads on both Google Play and the Apple app store.
VLive hosts channels for K-pop idols such as BTS, TXT, Seventeen, GFriend, and other groups from other major entertainment companies. The app notifies fans anytime one of their favorite artists is doing a live stream. Fans are able to comment on the stream for a chance to be noticed by the artist. Vlive also has a plus feature, where fans can pay extra for exclusive content posted by the artists or group.
Weverse belongs to a Big Hit Entertainment’s subsidiary company, Weverse Company Inc, (previously known as beNX prior to the merge). It is a platform for artists and their fans, similar to Twitter. Fans can post their own status updates, share pictures, and interact with the artist’s posts. Originally, only Big Hit artists were on the app. However, with the company’s expansion, artists from Pledis, Source, KOZ, and other solo artists have joined Weverse. The app has around 2.4 million daily users.
VLive and Weverse Merging
On January 27, Naver invested $371 million USD into Weverse Company Inc, making Naver one of the largest shareholders of the company. Additionally, Naver will be transferring VLive to Weverse Company Inc and subsequently, merging VLive and Weverse into one new fan platform.
Naver’s knowledge of technology and content transmissions combined with Big Hit’s global influence, the new platform aims to reach a broader audience to expand on Korean entertainment. The merge of VLive and Weverse will take about a year. In the meantime, both platforms will operate as they have been before.
The Future of Big Hit Entertainment and Naver
Through merging Vlive and Weverse, fans will be able to interact with artists in a more intimate and direct setting. Both Big Hit Entertainment and Naver recognize that they need to remain competitive in the entertainment and technology industries. They hope to take Korean culture overseas, not only in North America, but also in Europe, South America, and other parts of the world. Big Hit’s acquisitions and investments into major entertainment companies could also hint at possible collaborations between many artists in the future.