CNN, CNN BUSINESS
By Michelle Toh, CNN Business
Disney is bringing BTS to its streaming services, adding the world’s biggest band to its roster of digital stars.
In an announcement shared first with CNN Business, the entertainment giant said Monday that it would add new original shows featuring members of the South Korean pop group to Disney+.
That will result in five new titles with HYBE, BTS’ management company. The firm was previously known as Big Hit Entertainment.
At least two of the new titles will be shot with the entire band, including a taped concert special in Los Angeles and a behind-the-scenes documentary series. Disney expects the latter to debut next year.
In a recorded video message shared with CNN Business, the band said they were looking forward to showing fans “a more up-close and personal side of us.”
BTS has enjoyed meteoric success in recent years, attracting legions of fans around the world known as the “Army.”
Recently, however, the seven-person group announced that it would be taking a break to explore various projects, including some on a solo basis.
The new tie-up with Disney reflects that. One forthcoming title is a reality show that will see V, a BTS star, head on vacation with other Korean celebrities, the company said.
The band’s documentary will also peek into their daily lives “as they prepare for their second chapter,” Disney and HYBE said in a joint statement.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The move shows how Disney is focusing on top-tier talent as it continues to go after Netflix and cash in on the recent wave of popularity surrounding Korean content and culture.
Last year, for example, fans worldwide buzzed over “Squid Game,” the South Korean hit from Netflix that became the company’s top show globally. Disney said it has also found success with titles like “Snowdrop,” a Korean series that has become one of its most-watched titles throughout Asia recently.
“This collaboration represents our creative ambition — to work with iconic content creators and top stars in Asia-Pacific so their talent can be enjoyed by mainstream audiences in multiple ways,” Jessica Kam-Engle, Disney’s head of content for Asia Pacific, said in a statement. “We believe these new titles will captivate consumers worldwide and look forward to introducing more music content on our service.”
The move is part of a major expansion into Asian content announced by the company last October. It plans to greenlight more than 50 original titles from the region by 2023.
The Hollywood giant said at the time that it was commissioning new shows from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Many of the programs will be presented in local languages, from Bahasa Indonesia to Mandarin.
Netflix has also been pouring money into original Asian language content, and touting the global success of its Korean and Japanese programs in particular.
But the company’s stock has faced pressure in recent months, after it revealed in April that it had lost subscribers for the first time in a decade. The news reignited debate about long-term prospects for the streaming sector.
Investors, however, seem calmer about Disney. The company said in its most recent earnings presentation in May that it had added more Disney+ subscribers than expected over the past quarter, bringing its total to 137.7 million.
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