CJ ENM Focuses on New Markets
BY Yako Molhov
Korean entertainment giant CJ ENM is growing its international presence relying on its strong portfolio of entertainment and scripted content. After acquiring Eccho Rights at the beginning of the year the company is now focused on entering new markets outside Asia, as Chul-Yeon Kim, Senior Vice President of CJ ENM, tells Yako Molhov.
Chul-yeon Kim, Senior Vice President of CJ ENM
CJ ENM is Asia’s leading entertainment and merchandising company. Tell us more about your TV and digital content business - CJ E&M. What are the number of territories you operate in and how many subsidiaries you have in the media business?
CJ ENM’s main areas of business are television/broadcasting, film, music and animation. Currently CJ ENM owns 16 cable channels in Korea, including general entertainment channels (tvN, XtvN and more) and genre-specific channels such as music channel mnet, crime drama and movie blockbuster channel OCN and channel CGV. These local channels boast viewership, with core target audiences within 20-49 individuals. Plus, we have tvN Asia which operates in 10 different countries around South East Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Our film business is also strong locally and internationally, we have subsidiaries in the US and Turkey.

In our music division we produce and distribute music for Korean artists and idol bands. The business also encompasses producing concerts and festivals in and outside of Korea, amongst them are KCON (global K-culture festival held 4-6 times a year in venues including LA, NY, Thailand and more) and MAMA, also a global concert and music award held in Hong Kong, Japan and Korea each year end.

In the second quarter of this year CJ ENM collected an estimated $80 million in profits. To what do you attribute these strong results?
In the second quarter this year we had a few tent pole dramas that led to strong sales. We had historical epic drama Arthdal Chronicles and Hotel Del Luna, which was the biggest part of our sales. Another successful drama was Voice Season 3, one of our crime drama channel OCN’s fan favorites which is now commissioned for one more season. Voice was also commissioned in Japan as a scripted format, where the local version was very popular scoring the highest ratings of the year [for Nippon TV]. For the remaining year, we have a strong drama slate upcoming, and we expect many Korean and overseas viewers to be interested in watching.

Arthdal Chronicles

In December last year you acquired a majority stake in Eccho Rights. What is your strategy in terms of global expansion and what have been the first results of this acquisition?
Eccho Rights is one of the world’s leading top TV distribution companies with their prominent presence in Turkey and the Nordics, and also maintains a strong network with independent producers in Europe, Latin America and MENA.
CJ ENM decided to acquire Eccho Rights in order to create synergy between companies when combined with CJENM’s strong distribution network and content development capability. As part of the collaboration, Eccho Rights is representing a number of selected top-tier Korean contents from CJ ENM to multiple territories including Turkey, MENA and Latin America and likewise we can jointly collaborate to drive more sales of content currently represented by Eccho Rights. Additionally, we can position ourselves more strategically and utilize the market expertise and distribution network of Eccho Rights.

Are you planning to adapt any Turkish drama titles from the Eccho Rights catalog?
CJ ENM is actively communicating with Eccho Rights for any potential adaptation of the catalog represented by Eccho Rights including but not limited only to Turkish drama.

Hotel Del Luna

Have you planned other similar acquisitions or partnerships?
In the short term, we do not have a plan for acquisitions but as we carry out and develop business with Eccho Rights, it is possible to review potential opportunities.

CJ ENM is the largest content provider in Korea with specialized broadcasting channels for different genres. What about digital platforms?
We have channels across Korea which all have a significant amount of original content over all genres. We have a digital OTT platform named TVING, where you can watch all programs that had originally aired on CJ ENM’s channels. TVING also services current and library films both from Korea and movies acquired from other markets including the U.S., United Kingdom, Taiwan and more. On top of this, this year we had especially focused on digital originals for our YT channels, spanning from K-pop clips, original web dramas to informative digital original shows. We have over 20 separate online channels.

What are the key segments where you would like to grow in the future? What is your strategy for the markets in China and Japan?
Currently we are enthusiastically tapping into new regions such as Europe, MENA and North/South Americas. While our content has significant presence in Asia, these are regions that still need building up. We are consistently opening local screening events and organizing business meeting trips. Recently one of our biggest hits What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim has been commissioned in Chile and recorded good ratings by increasing the timeslot average by 100%. Following this success, we would like to continue such sales in the region.
Japan is one of our biggest markets. The Japanese market is unique because there are diverse windows and platforms for our content. Our strategy for the upcoming years is to target each of these windows (VOD/OTT/TV/DVD and more) in specific ways and cooperate with local partners so that our programs can be distributed in the most efficient way from current programs to library programs.


Korean formats and drama series have become quite popular internationally. What do you expect to be the next hits coming out of Korea?
Following the success of The Good Doctor (ABC) and The Masked Singer (FOX), we are pleased to see an increase of interest in Korean entertainment and dramas. We are in the finalizing stages for some remake licenses to our IPs, mainly our hit music shows I Can See Your Voice and Love at First Sing which both had been travelling to many countries, and we can’t wait to talk about them in public soon.
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