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Moblie carriers turn to K-pop idols to boost 5G popularity

As South Korea’s mobile carriers focus on expanding the commercial use of 5G cellular network services since their launch last month, K-pop idols have emerged as an attractive draw to boost the popularity of 5G among consumers.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are introducing various services that allow subscribers to enjoy K-pop in an optimal environment by combining virtual reality technology with the hyperspeed network in a way that totally transforms the experience.

Given the growing appeal of K-pop content to tech-savvy young subscribers, the telecom firms are pinning their hopes on the entertainment platform as an efficient starting point for the marketing of their 5G services.

“Since the launch of 5G services, consumption of VR content has increased a lot,” said Yang Maeng-suk, head of SKT’s 5G business division. “We will continue to provide more suitable content with various themes.”

Up-and-coming K-pop stars compete on “Produce X 101” on SKT’s 5G-based streaming service. SKT
Up-and-coming K-pop stars compete on “Produce X 101” on SKT’s 5G-based streaming service. SKT

The country’s biggest mobile carrier has introduced a 5G-based streaming service for an audition contest similar to “American Idol” for up-and-coming K-pop stars. Its subscribers have been able to watch “Produce X 101” via VR gadgets since May 18.

To deliver natural streaming of VR-based content, SKT said it recorded all the “Produce X 101” performances with special 3D cameras and the 5G network. The video footage is at least four times as clear as previous recordings.

KT, which has a full-fledged campaign centered on K-pop, has also come up with its own streaming platform for those seeking to watch K-pop stars up close, with a viewing experience that wasn’t possible in the 4G network environment.

Through the service, called “Musician Live,” subscribers can watch performances from almost every camera angle possible. The company also plans to release “Sing Stealer” content using 5G technology to notch up the karaoke experience.

“Now our subscribers don’t have to go to a concert to enjoy live music,” said Kim Hoon-bae, head of the new media business division at KT. “More 5G-related content will follow to maximize consumer satisfaction.”

LG Uplus, for its part, has capitalized on augmented reality to bring K-pop stars closer to fans. Through a service called “My favorite 3D stars,” subscribers can create AR-based images of their favorite stars and enjoy the experience of dancing alongside them.

According to Seoul-based research center Good Data Cooperation, K-pop content holds great influence and has great power to capture public attention. “Produce X 101” was chosen as the most powerful TV show in this regard.

The competition show’s influence was estimated at about 36 percent relative to all shows. In a distant second place with about 3 percent influence was the entertainment program “Knowing Bros,” also known as “Brother That I Know.”