CJ ENM, the Korean corporation behind Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” and the “Snowpiercer” TV series, is to expand its investment in entertainment content to a massive $4.4 billion over the next five years.
The company is already one of Asia’s largest entertainment companies, but it is now seeking to achieve global significance.
“We will move on to the world stage and compete with global platforms and media powerhouses,” said CJ ENM CEO Kang Ho-sung at a press event in Seoul on Monday.
The expansion capitalizes on seemingly insatiable demand for Korean music, TV and film content. K-pop bands are crossing over onto the world stage, and international video streaming platforms are competing to secure TV shows that work at a local level in the wealthy Korean market and also attract a regional and global audience.
Kang said CJ ENM will spend KRW5 trillion ($4.4 billion) on content over five years, with some KRW800 billion ($708 million) going into production in the current year. That figure compares with the KRW500 billion ($450 million) figure that Netflix announced it will spend in Korea in 2021.
The group spans companies including TV channels tvN, OCN and Mnet, film division CJ Entertainment and TV production firm Studio Dragon, which has its own share listing. Kang explained that, following the example provided by Studio Dragon, the group will set up other multi-format production companies across genres including films, unscripted, scripted TV series and animation.
A large portion of the group efforts will be directed through Tving, CJ ENM’s majority-owned streaming service which launched in Korea back in 2011. The platform shot to significance with recent shows including “New Journey To The West” and films such as “Seobok,” which due to lingering COVID conditions, was given a day-and-date theatrical and streaming release in April, before being pulled off theater screens after just 18 days.
Tving aims to create 100 original series: enough volume to allow it to expand into international markets by 2023 and achieve a target of 8 million paying subscribers.
Another major component of the plan will see CJ ENM increase its emphasis on the K-pop business, where it has some assets but has been a relatively minor player compared to the three or four major pop talent houses.
The company already operates audition shows “Superstar K” and “I-Land,” and will produce more competition shows outside Korea to discover and integrate international talent into K-pop groups. CJ ENM also controls the high-profile Mnet Asian Music Awards show.
CJ ENM recently enjoyed success with K-pop group Enhypen, which was derived through Belift Lab, a joint venture between CJ ENM and HYBE (the BTS backer formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment), and which emerged through their jointly-owned “I-Land” audition-survival show.
Another new group Japanese boyband JO1, emerged last year from the “Produce 101 Japan” talent show, and is managed by Lapone Entertainment, a joint venture between CJ ENM and Japan’s Yoshimoto Kogyo. It has already had a number one hit on Japan’s Oricon chart.
Korean drama shows are the bedrock of Asian streaming firms such as Viu and China’s iQiyi as it moves beyond mainland China. While CJ ENM’s Tving may compete with such streamers, the group also committed itself to continuing to supply Netflix and others. As an example of that, HBO Max this month announced plans to work with CJ ENM to produce a new K-pop audition series in Latin America.