Era of Web Entertainment

网络娱乐时代 서영진, 최윤서, 구시현l승인2020.11.02l수정2020.11.02 12:23l382호 1면

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   Have you watched any web entertainment shows that are popular these days? Web entertainment is a form of light online content that can be enjoyed quickly via a user’s smartphone in their spare time. Shows are normally short 5 to 15 minutes long and aired over the internet instead of traditional terrestrial broadcasting. There are a variety of programs available catering to a wide array of user interests.

   Web entertainment is freewheeling and focuses its originalistic content on developing a sensitivity to the lives of the middle and lower classes. This B-class sensibility is a phenomenon in which people are enthusiastic about the sensibilities of the middle and lower classes, rather than upper class culture.

   Web entertainment programs evolved out of individually produced media, and not from traditional broadcasters. The simplistic appeal was a hit with users who often found themselves absorbed in the new form of programming. However, technological development and a growing call for more variety of available programming led to an expansion in ‘Over the Top Services’ (OTT service). OTT service provides users with various types of media content in the form of broadcast programs, movies, and education through the Internet. As OTT services grew in popularity, TV program viewership began a downward trend. Ratings were falling, and along with it, the industry’s much needed advertising revenue. To address these shortcomings, broadcasters actively entered the field of web entertainment programming.

▲ From the left, Eun Ji-won, Lee Soo-geun, Lee Seung-gi, Kang Ho-dong, who appeared in the Web Entertainment Shin Seo Yu Gi. (Photo from Korean Today)

   The new media category was solidified after tvNgo's show ‘Shin Seo Yugi’ was first posted online. Producer Na Young-seok attracted attention to the new media format last year with his first five-minute unprecedented program ‘A supplementary story of Shin Seo Yugi: Three meals a day in Iceland.’ A month and a half after it aired, it recorded 50 million views on Naver TV, and over 50 million views on a Chinese portal site. TV broadcasters, who saw the potential of the Internet platform with the success of Shin Seo Yugi, began releasing web entertainment programming of their own. They also used the medium to test experimental programming ideas by posting them online first and monitoring the reaction of viewers.

▲ Web entertainment Workman's YouTube thumbnail. (Photo from STAR FOCUS)

   It was not long before cable broadcasters were on board with online content production. With viewers pouring out interest in web entertainment programs, many new productions were created to attract viewer attention. Unlike TV programs, viewers enjoy web programs because of the variety of content on offer and JTBC is now offering web dramas and entertainment shows through their online production Studio Lululala. Their web entertainment show ‘Workman,’ starring Jang Sung-kyu and Kim Min-ah, is a program that presents honest reviews of challenging part-time jobs in various industries. It has reached 1 million subscribers in 35 days since its launch in July. There are many other examples of web programs being produced such as No Hong-chul’s “Street Show’, Chung-jae’s “Drawing Room”, and “Mapo Dandy Boy” by tvN and “Wassup Man” and “Hal Myung Soo” by JTBC.

   Web entertainment is gaining popularity because of its endless fun as realistic variety shows and the easy access programming that cannot be enjoyed on terrestrial broadcasting channels because of industry restrictions. Web entertainment production costs are minimal because the shows have short running times, and can even generate profits by adding advertising revenue and PPL for each broadcasting company. For these reasons, web entertainment is growing in popularity in Korea these days.

   The era of 'web entertainment' is just beginning. In these golden days, viewers are looking forward new and innovative content that will grab their attention well into the future. We are glad that web entertainment has become another new media format that will revitalize the industry, and we hope that there will be more fun and easy content available for viewers to enjoy.


서영진, 최윤서, 구시현  dankookherald@gmail.com
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