The impact of COVID-19 was ingrained throughout the annual financial results of CJ ENM, the most diversified entertainment company in South Korea. Music gained ground, while film was lossmaking. Similarly, the group’s streaming business rapidly grew its top line, but its heavy investment costs kept the unit in the red.
For the year to end of December 2021, CJ ENM recorded a 5% increase in sales, to KRW3.55 trillion ($2.97 billion), and a 9% increase in operating profit, at KRW297 billion ($248 million), it sais in a regulatory filing on Thursday. Net income weighed in with a big jump from KRW 66 billion to KRW 228 billion ($191 million).
The media division recorded annual sales of KRW 1.75 trillion ($1.46 billion) and operating profit of KRW 166.5 billion, its highest ever annual operating profit.
The number of paying subscribers at streaming service Tving increased by 19% quarter on quarter. The company did not disclose an end of year subscriber total, but said that its target for the streamer is for a further ramp up to four million subscribers by the end of 2022. It aims to achieve this by expanding content production and clawing back market share. Netflix remains the streaming market leader in Korea. Digital sales increased by 60% compared to the same period last year. “However, in the fourth quarter, it posted an operating loss of KRW 9.3 billion due to increased production costs, the expansion of programming and one-off expenses,” the company said.
The rather smaller music division recorded annual sales of KRW 282 billion ($234 million), up from KRW180 billion. INI, which released their first single album in Japan last year, and JO1, which released a mini album, produced significant results. CJ ENM’s own artists Enhyphen, Yuri Jo, and soundtracks drove sales. In 2022, there will be more albums by Kepler and Enhyphen.
Film saw sales fall even in comparison with the first COVID year., hitting KRW117 billion ($97.9 million), compared with KRW142 billion, and operating losses were KRW28.2 billion ($23 million). Library sales and overseas projects, grew, but there were enduring problems for Korean theatrical.
The current year sees a film lineup that includes Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave,” Choi Dong-hoon’s “Alien + Human,” and Kore-eda Hirokazu’s “Broker.”
“We plan to further expand our market share by strengthening our content competitiveness, including increasing channel viewing share and paying subscriber numbers,” said a company spokesman on current year prospects.