The New Normal in Leisure Post COVID-19
The New Normal in Leisure Post COVID-19
  • reporter Park Jee-won
  • 승인 2020.07.14 18:14
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▲TVXQ performing at Beyond LIVE / SM Entertainment
▲TVXQ performing at Beyond LIVE / SM Entertainment


As the social distancing campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continued around the world, a trend called “Untact (non-face-to-face)” has emerged. Sports and art markets, which faced a period of stagnation due to the inability to attract audiences due to the virus, found a turning point through untact.
In March, the kickoff of the Korean Professional Sports League was postponed due to COVID-19. However, in May, the league started despite the absence of the audience, and people watched games through online media at home. Reflecting the audience’s  strong desire to watch sports media, the average number of viewers of the opening game of KBO League—a Korean professional baseball league—increased from 343,291 in 2019 to 1,493,430 this year, according to Naver’s statistics. The figure, which increased by 4.35 times, is thought to be due to the constraints in outdoor leisure activities and the desire to lift up low spirits caused by such constraints. 
Interest in Korean professional sports is also spreading all over the world. In the case of KBO League, American sports channel ESPN and Japanese platform SPOZONE are showing great interest in purchasing broadcasting contracts, and K League—a Korean professional soccer league—is receiving global attention and sold broadcasting contracts to 37 countries.
Although performance halls are closed due to COVID-19, performances are continuing. Cases of broadcasting performance content through online streaming are increasing. “BTS Concert in the Room”, released on April 18 through YouTube, attracted enormous attention as it recorded 50.59 million views and 2.24 million concurrent viewers in 24 hours. Furthermore, there are also cases where companies have seized the opportunity to make use of online broadcasting. SM Entertainment is receiving both domestic and international attention by introducing the online concert series “Beyond LIVE.” The performances combined technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and real-time 3D graphics, and created attractions that seem to merge performances and music videos. Also, by using “sink-play” technology, the color of fanlights of fans watching the performances changed according to the live online performance.
However, some point out that the Korean art industry is not ready for online performances. With the use of streaming performances, there has been a problem in the distribution of profits among concert halls, performers, and film technicians. Columnist Jang Ji-young said, “At first, the concert hall received all the profits from streaming performances” and that “Only after the actors union pointed out the problem, the profits were distributed to others.” Streaming services, in particular, are deepening the rich-get-riches phenomenon in the art market. There is also a growing gap in profits between state-sponsored performance groups, including the National Gugak Center, and private performance groups. Huh Yoon-jung, professor at Seoul National University, asserted: “Private companies lacking capital and manpower are not competitive, so the art industry may become ‘winner-takes-all structure.’ ”

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