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New Kakao M CEO to challenge Netflix, CJ ENM in original content

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By Baek Byung-yeul

Kim Sung-soo, CEO of Kakao M
Kim Sung-soo, CEO of Kakao M
Kakao M, entertainment subsidiary of internet firm Kakao, will produce its own video content to vie with Netflix and CJ ENM as the firm appointed former CJ ENM CEO as its new leader, the firm said Wednesday.

The firm announced Kim Sung-soo, former CEO of entertainment firm CJ ENM, as its new CEO. "We appointed Kim as new CEO during a board meeting. This is to beef up the content production business," an official from Kakao M said.

Kim served as CEO as the country's media firms including now-defunct On Media and CJ ENM. Dubbed "The Midas Touch in entertainment business," Kim was instrumental in helping CJ ENM become a leading entertainment firm by making lavish investments in producing a variety of content.

Under his leadership, CJ ENM made popular dramas such as the "Reply" series, "Misaeng" and "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God" and reality TV shows "Grandpas Over Flowers" and "Three Meals a Day."

"Kakao M has its strengths in the music and video content business and is full of potential. My job is to foster the firm as a strong player in the global market," Kim said in a statement.

With the new CEO, Kakao M will focus on creating what it calls "short form content," targeting consumers in their teens and 20s who are more comfortable consuming mobile short-length content.

The original content it produces will be distributed through Kakao's content platform Kakao Page.

The move is in line with streaming giant Neflix's increased focus on producing original content. Netflix invested some 80 percent of the production cost of 2018's hit drama "Mr. Sunshine," which enjoyed an average viewership rating of more than 18 percent.

Kakao M has been operating Melon, the largest music streaming site here. It also has been running a mobile video production company Krispy Studio since January 2017 and set up a drama production joint venture Mega Monster with drama production firm Studio Dragon in May 2017.

"In addition to web dramas and web entertainment shows Krispy Studio has produced, we will strengthen investment and support in producing various genres of original content," the firm said.

To secure its competitiveness in the video contents market, Kakao M added it completed the acquisition process of three entertainment management agencies ― BH Entertainment, J Wide Company and SOOP Management and model agency Ready Entertainment. Among the agencies, BH Entertainment is known for housing stars such as actor Lee Byung-hun and actress Han Ji-min.

With the acquisitions, Kakao M now houses about 100 actors and actresses. "With the management agencies, and music and video contents businesses we own we will try to enhance the synergy effects among them," the firm said.

Baek Byung-yeul

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