BTS’s free concert attracts 49M+ viewers online in what could be the last in years

BTS, pictured at the 2019 Grammy Awards, were the world's biggest recorded music artist in 2021 across all formats according to IFPI data (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

Four months since announcing that the band would go on a hiatus, K-pop sensation BTS staged a free concert in Busan, South Korea, over the weekend, attracting more than 49 million viewers in-person and online.

The free-of-charge concert, called “BTS ‘Yet to Come’ in Busan,” had some 50,000 in-person audiences at the Asiad Main Stadium and another 10,000 watching at a live retransmission at the Busan Port, Variety reported on Saturday (October 15).

Another 2,000 people watched the show in the seaside district of Haeundae, which recently hosted the Busan International Film Festival.

The concert on Saturday amassed 49 million views online through Weverse, a fan platform operated by BTS’s management group Hybe Entertainment, Variety reports.

At least another million TV viewers reportedly watched the concert online after local TV broadcast in Korea on JTBC claimed a 3.3% jump in rating.

BTS performed their hit tracks including “Dynamite,” “Butter,” “Burning Up (Fire),” “Idol,” and “Spring Day,” for a total of 19 songs performed.

“The setlist comprised songs that best represent the band and anyone—beyond ARMY—can easily sing along,” Hybe was quoted by Variety as saying.

The concert was held in support of the city of Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo. South Korea is competing against three other nations in hosting the World Expo, according to Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.

It is up against Saudi Arabia, Italy and Ukraine, which submitted its bid despite the war with Russia.

As Busan goes all out in promoting the city in its bid for the World Expo, the city in July officially appointed BTS as honorary ambassadors for the 2030 Busan World Expo. BTS is also set to promote the city during presentations of World Expo 2030 candidate cities at the BIE General Assembly.

Busan’s mayor even went as far as proposing that BTS members be allowed to skip their military duties to continue promoting the city’s bid for the 2030 event, Nikkei Asia reported last month.

On Monday (October 17), the band’s agency, Hybe, said in a stock exchange filing that the BTS members have started their preparations to fulfill their military service obligations.

Jin, the band’s oldest member who was given a two-year reprieve to carry out his military service, will revoke his request to delay his enlistment at the end of October and will follow the Korean military’s enlistment-related procedures.

“The other members will also perform their military service sequentially according to their plans,” Hybe said.

Shares of Hybe closed down 2.5% in Korean trading on Monday.

While the number of viewers during the concert failed to beat Hong Kong singer-songwriter and film producer Andy Lau’s global record of 350 million viewers online, BTS still managed to attract a decent number of audiences after setting a Guinness World Record in 2020 for the most viewers for a music concert live stream in 2020 with 756,000 fans that paid for tickets.

In October 2020, the band broke their own world record after amassing almost 1 million viewers and again in June 2021 after seeing a record 1.33 million paid viewers for the online concert Muster Sowoozoo 2021.

However, Bloomberg News reported that the concert could be the band’s last event in years.

“This is the last concert that was planned… As I wasn’t sure when we could do a concert again, I tried to keep all my emotions here. But we can always have another one and you will come again, right?” Jin was quoted by the newswire as saying during the event on Saturday.

It’s not exactly the last chance, but there probably won’t be any concerts in the near future since some of them are going to enlist soon,” Jessica Wan, a Hong Kong resident who traveled to Busan for the concert, told Bloomberg.

Under Korea’s laws, men aged 18 to 35 are required to serve in the military for 18 to 21 months.Music Business Worldwide