“If I could come out once on TV, it would be so good, it would be so good.” Most Koreans may remember singing this song at least once in their early years. This little hope for being discovered on TV has now come very close in our real lives. These days, people have more opportunities to go on broadcasting, even if it is not through an exact TV. It is through “one-person media,” which refers to a form of media that is produced by one person designing, managing, and filming on his or her own. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) introduces the new phenomenon of one-person media and the influence it has on today’s society.
About One-Person Media
The concept of one-person media broadly covers the action of displaying an individual’s own postings, pictures, or films for the public to view. Contrary to media in the past based only on text, such as a “mini-homepage” or “blog,” one-person media is now mostly multi-media, such as pictures and videos usually as a form of broadcasting. Thus, one-person broadcasting is now emerging as a general trend, leading people to regard one-person media as one- person broadcasting. New terms have appeared such as “YouTuber,” which refers to users active in distributing videos created by users themselves on YouTube. One-person media is gaining more popularity as smartphones quickly spread throughout the nation and development of the Internet accelerates. Furthermore, the new media trend of “snack culture,” which means that people enjoy media content for only a brief time as though eating a snack, has led to the upward trend of one-person media.
In Korea, Afreeca TV and YouTube are the typical platforms of one-person media, earning the most popularity. Owing to the development of these media platforms, the one-person media market is rapidly increasing. As of March 2015, the number of videos uploaded to YouTube skyrocketed by 90 percent in comparison to 2014. Moreover, among the twenty channels with the most growth, 45 percent were channels of one-person media.
One-Person Media in Korea
Behind the scenes of the one-person media industry, there are some media platforms delivering contents to the public. They provide services not only for uploading manufactured contents, but also for broadcasting contents in real-time. In Korea, these kinds of services are constantly emerging, including Afreeca TV, YouTube, Pandora TV, and so on. The SKT will introduce the two representative platforms of video-sharing in Korea: Afreeca TV and YouTube.
Afreeca TV was first promoted in 2006 as a webcast service that offers a Social Network Service (SNS) media platform, enabling individuals to broadcast live without any special equipment, using only a webcam and a screen on a computer monitor. During broadcasting, communication between broadcasters and viewers occurs through a type-out chat box, which is the most essential aspect of the platform. Afreeca TV received unfavorable evaluation of low-quality content in its early years. Meanwhile, the platform now represents the first video-sharing service in Korea and possesses the largest number of one-person media channels. An average of 380,000 viewers and a maximum of 770,000 viewers simultaneously access the platform to watch live broadcasts.
Afreeca TV has adopted a novel business model referred to as “star balloon,” which is a concept that allows a Broadcasting Jockey (BJ) to generate income. Viewers can purchase star balloons on the platform at a unit price of \110, including tax, and then provide them for their favorite BJs as a gift. BJs can redeem the reward for cash after every 500 star balloons. More specifically, every \100, excluding tax, is distributed to BJs and Afreeca TV at the ratio of 6 to 4. In this way, BJs are able to exchange 500 star balloons into earnings of \30,000.
The number of BJs currently stretches to approximately 300,000, and they are broadcasting across various genres such as politics, gaming, sports, make-up, and so on. The Afreeca TV Award Ceremony is held annually for BJs who achieve the greatest popularity. This success infers that one-person media is becoming more socially infiuential.
YANGDDING(YD) Gaming Channel
Yangdding is a female BJ at Afreeca TV who broadcasts popular video games, especially “Minecraft.” As she provides detailed, new information about the Minecraft game along with ceaseless interaction with the viewers, YD has attracted about 1.5 million subscribers.
YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing service, as it reaches a large number of users and provides an array of new services. Departing from the previous platform of only watching videos, YouTube presented a new form of platform that enabled people to release their own videos on their own channels to which others can subscribe. These channels increased the influence of personal videos, thus playing a great role as a distribution channel for one-person media. YouTube Korea opened in 2008 and has gradually created plenty of one-person media. YouTube creators can also receive some income according to YouTube’s profit structure. The profit is based on the advertisement system, and the income increases with the increase of viewers to the video.
Lamuqe is a female YouTuber who uploads makeup tutorial videos. As she shows her own tips for skincare and covers the makeup of famous TV stars, she is drawing about 400,000 subscribers.
One-person Media Broadens Its Fields
From Minor to Major: “My Little Television”
“My Little Television (MLT)” is an MBC TV program that features a number of people working in different careers, such as a magician and a chef, to bring their expertise through broadcasting. After the unedited real-time broadcasting, the content is edited for broadcasting on the MBC channel. It is gaining its popularity, drawing about 200,000 viewers who simultaneously watch the real-time broadcasting. The popularity of MLT comes from four factors: diversity, friendliness, sense of realism, and interaction. MLT implements variety via a number of experts from various fields, and they provide contents that make viewers feel a sense of closeness. Moreover, as it proceeds in real-time using the type-out chat boxes, the contents become more vivid.
It is no exaggeration to say that the growing popularity of one- person media is led by MLT. MLT first appeared on terrestrial channels as one-person media, and it gave great significance, drawing a stark contrast to shady means used in the past.
Multi-Channel Network (MCN)
With the growth of one-person media, some companies such as MCN are jumping into the new industry. MCN is a business that supports one-person media producers directly and indirectly, making a better environment for producers to create their contents. As MCN manages the producers, it takes about 10 to 30 percent of the income that a producer receives. Following companies such as CJ E&M’s DIA TV and start-ups like Treasure Hunter, many companies are stepping into the industry. Since the profit model of MCN is based on video advertisement, the strong growth of MCN can be inferred via the growth of the video advertisement industry. The scale of Korea’s video advertisement industry has grown from \91 billion in 2014 to \118 billion in 2015. According to eMarketer, an independent market research company, the scale of the worldwide video advertisement market is expected to grow 64 percent by 2018.
The one-person media industry is continuously growing. In the past, it remained only in minor areas and drew only minor audiences. Nowadays, however, it has come out of the shadows thanks to “My Little Television.” Of course, there are still some concerns about one-person media. It cannot avoid the difficulties of producing high-quality contents compared to existing large broadcasting systems. Thus, it tends to rely on one-dimensional stimuli. In order to overcome these limitations, more efforts should be continuously made to improve the quality of contents that producers provide.
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