BTS label Big Hit saw revenues rocket to $249m in the first half of 2020… partly thanks to livestreamed concerts

BTS arrive at the iHeartRadio Jingle Bell Ball, Los Angeles, December 6, 2019 (credit: Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock)

The first half of 2020 wasn’t an easy ride for the major record companies.

The ‘Big Three’ (Universal, Sony and Warner) only saw modest collective growth in the six months to end of June, as the blockbuster industry faced knock-on effects from the global pandemic.

It was a different story, however, for South Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment – home of K-Pop superstars BTS – MBW has discovered.

Big Hit, led by CEO Bang Si-Hyuk, has revealed its financial results for the H1 2020 period, in which it generated revenues of 294bn South Korean Won ($249m at current exchange rates).

That was significantly up on the same period of last year (H1 2019), when Big Hit posted half-year revenues of 200.1bn Won ($166m).

A like-for-like YoY comparison here is complicated by Big Hit using a different accounting standard in each period, but in real terms, that means the Seoul-based company’s half-year revenues grew 47% YoY in H1 2020.

Big Hit’s operating profit in the first half of 2020, meanwhile, stood at 49.7 billion won ($42m); in the same period of 2019, Big Hit posted an equivalent profit figure of 39.1bn KRW ($33m).

The latest numbers were revealed during the Big Hit Corporate Briefing last Wednesday (August 12), less than a week after the company was granted preliminary approval for an IPO by the Korea Exchange.

So… how did Big Hit perform so enviably amid a global health crisis?

For one thing, livestreamed concerts played an important role.

Bang Si-Hyuk presents Big Hit’s H1 2020 finances at the company’s Briefing event, August 12 (credit: Big Hit)

Speaking during his opening remarks at the Corporate Briefing event, Big Hit CEO Bang Si-Hyuk said (translated) that his company “faced entirely unexpected turmoil” from the pandemic in H1 2020, with “each moment [creating] a threat and a crisis”.

That was particularly true when it came to a BTS world tour, which was scheduled to begin in Seoul in April, followed by 16 concerts in the US and seven in Europe.

Despite the postponement of that tour and other events, Big Hit says a collapse in the company’s touring income in H1 2020 was more than offset by a combination of strong sales for albums, merchandise and tickets for ‘virtual concerts’.

Those virtual concerts included BTS’s BANG BANG CON The Live event which took place on June 14, and generated around $20m in sales alone.

“I can say with confidence that Big Hit is a ‘content powerhouse’, and our focus is always on creating good content.”

Bang Si-Hyuk, Big Hit Entertainment

BANG BANG CON The Live broke the record for the largest ever virtual concert audience, which Big Hit noted at the time equated to 15 shows at a 50,000-capacity stadium.

Lenzo Yoon, Big Hit’s Global Business CEO stating during the company’s Briefing last week: “Big Hit responded well in the face of an unexpected global crisis.”

Bang Si-Hyuk added at the Corporate Briefing:  “I can say with confidence that Big Hit is a ‘content powerhouse’, and our focus is always on creating good content.”

Elsewhere at the event, Big Hit revealed that BTS will be releasing a new album in Q4 2020, in addition to performing  an “online and offline concert” on October 10 and 11 called BTS Map of the Soul ON:E.

Yesterday (August 18), Big Hit posted the teaser video for BTS’s upcoming new single, Dynamite, which is performed in English and will be released on Friday (August 21).

In less than 24 hours, the teaser has over 30m views on YouTube.

Big Hit was recently accepted to list on the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), with the listing expected to take place later this year.

Big Hit Entertainment recently acquired a stake in Seoul-based K-Pop label Pledis Entertainment and is now the company’s largest shareholder.

The acquisition of the stake in the firm – which is home to K-Pop groups such as NU’EST and Seventeen – came less than a year after Big Hit’s acquisition of Source Music and Seoul-based music game company, Superb.

In 2019, Big Hit’s annual revenues doubled from the previous year to $494.6 million, with yearly operating profits of $82m.

According to Big Hit CEO CEO Bang Si-Hyuk, BTS sold 6.21 million albums in 2019, while SEVENTEEN  sold1.45 million.Music Business Worldwide

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