Big Hit Entertainment, the label behind the phenomenal South Korean boy band BTS, is to make its debut on the Korea Exchange on October 15, marking one of the hottest initial public offerings (IPO) in the country. Through the offering, which is priced at USD 115 a share and has been oversubscribed by more than 1,000 times, the company will raise KRW 962.55 billion (USD 840 million).
The investors’ craze around the IPO is underpinned by BTS’s chart-topping superstardom. The seven-member boy band formed in 2013 has become a global hit in recent years. Its latest English-language single Dynamite demolished streaming records, topping the Billboard charts, and becoming the most-viewed YouTube music video within 24 hours of its release.
“Imagine how many ARMYs are coming here every second, minute, hour,” reads a comment from a fan below the YouTube. “ARMY” stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth,” a nickname for the fans of the group, which has collaborated with artists including Halsey, Troye Sivan, and Ed Sheeran.
BTS is also a social media juggernaut—it has 24.2 million followers on Twitter and 31.2 million on Instagram. Big Hit Entertainment’s technology subsidiary BenX launched a platform named Weverse, an online community that connects fans with the celebrities it manages and sells merchandise such as albums, DVDs, t-shirts, and tote bags. A BTS membership here costs USD 22 per year and allows fans to access exclusive content and limited editions of goods. The Weverse app was downloaded more than 10 million times as of July.
“To strengthen long-term partnership with major artists and boost morale,” the CEO and largest shareholder of Big Hit Entertainment Bang Si Hyuk, gave seven BTS members—RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—478,695 common shares, which will make them multimillionaires after the IPO.
Driven by the popularity of its most valuable property BTS, Bit Hit Entertainment generated KRW 587.2 billion (USD 483.3 million) in revenue, and KRW 98.7 billion (USD 81.2 million) in profits, up 95% and 24% year-on-year (YoY), respectively. The profit surpassed the figure that South Korea’s big three entertainment labels—SM (the agency of EXO), JYP (TWICE and Got7), and YG (Blackpink and Bigbang)—combined generated during the same period.
However, Big Hit depends heavily on BTS, with 87.7% and 97.4% of its revenue in the first half of 2020 and 2019 coming from BTS, respectively. Aiming for a sustainable business future, the company will have to diversify its revenue streams, especially since the BTS members are going to enter the mandatory military service in the coming years.