Big Hit Entertainment, which manages K-Pop superstars BTS, went public this week and made nearly $840 million in the process. Shares that were initially sold for $118 closed at $225 on the first day of trading – almost doubling their value.
Big Hit Entertainment is actually a late comer to the upper echelons of the Korean entertainment industry. The three other companies included in our chart, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, were previously known as the Big 3 – for their commercial success as well as their status at trendsetters. Considering revenues, Big Hit has surely earned its place among the re-coined Big 4. Last year, its sales were just below that of legendary SM Entertainment, which manages stars like EXO or Red Velvet.
JYP Entertainment is the smallest of the Big 4 revenue-wise. When the members of their major hit group Big Bang had to enlist in the military for mandatory two-year stints in 2017 and 2018, the company’s star started to fade, leading to some media outlets suggesting that they should be kicked out of the Big 4 and replaced with CJ Entertainment and Merchandising, which is testing a new approach in the Korean music market by owning several record labels, but leaving the management of artists to others.
While the 2020 comeback of Big Bang is currently being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, the stellar success of BTS and Big Hit could hit a similar snag: The first of the band’s seven members reaches the maximum age to enlist next year, with the other members following behind.