K-pop and big 4 entertainment agencies in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

K-pop is a global phenomenon with high levels of popularity around the globe. With its highly choreographed performances and trendy styles, K-pop is optimized for video platforms such as YouTube. Over 60 percent of respondents in a survey said they found K-pop very popular because of K-pop artists’ attractive appearance and style, their catchy rhythms and choruses, and excellent performances.

Other indicators of K-pop’s popularity around the world is the fact that SM Entertainment, one of the traditional Big 3 agencies along with JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment, has attracted around two million guests at its concerts in Japan every year for the past half-decade. In addition, the YouTube channel of the world-famous BTS boy group received nearly 139 million views over a one-year period. Over 40 million views were from the United States, followed by nearly 30 million views from Vietnam.

As already stated, SM Entertainment is one of the Big 3 K-pop agencies, and has usually taken the lead in size, number of stars, and profit. SM is regarded as having led the proliferation of the K-pop phenomenon around the world with popular male and female groups such as Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, and EXO. After BTS, SM’s boy group EXO sold the most albums in Korea in 2017, while SM’s annual sales in 2018 were twice as high as that of second-ranking YG. Even when BigHit showed higher operating profits, largely due to its management of BTS, SM had the highest profits of the Big 3. As of 2019, SM’s sales value was around 580 billion South Korean won and its net profit was valued at over 40 billion won.

One agency that has recently enjoyed huge success is BigHit Entertainment with its boy group BTS, originally formed in 2013. BigHit was founded in 2005 and had some successes, but in only a few years was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. It was only in recent years when BTS achieved enormous success around the world that the company was able to make a significant profit. In 2018, BigHit had an operating profit greater than the respective profits of the Big 3. Impressively, the recorded profit was around 50 percent more than that of second-ranking SM, despite being a much smaller company with only a third as many employees and far fewer popular K-pop stars. Largely thanks to BTS, BigHit had nearly 11 million Twitter followers, over three million more than SM.

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K-pop and big 4 entertainment agencies in South Korea

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Big 4 Comparison

SM Entertainment

BigHit Entertainment

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