Baby Shark creator to expand kiddie content

Viral YouTube video Baby Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) has been viewed more than two billion times.
Viral YouTube video Baby Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) has been viewed more than two billion times.PHOTO: PINKFONG/YOUTUBE

SEOUL • Baby Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) is the YouTube sensation that has been viewed more than two billion times and made the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a second-straight week.

The South Korean company behind the viral song about a family of sharks is now seeking to capitalise on the success by expanding its kid-oriented entertainment business.

Seoul-based SmartStudy's Pinkfong is planning to release short videos via streaming service Netflix, a cartoon series and a musical in North America this year, said one of the company's founders in an interview this week.

He added that the start-up, which has recently signed various merchandising deals, may also develop games that work with Amazon's Alexa and Alphabet's Google Home voice assistants.

The popularity of the sing-along builds on South Korea's emergence as an entertainment powerhouse.

Korean pop, or K-pop, has grown into a US$5 billion (S$6.8 billion) industry thanks to the success of the likes of boyband BTS.

"We've added the K-pop factor into our songs, such as very trendy beats and upbeat rhythms," said Mr Lee Seung-kyu, who is also SmartStudy's chief financial officer.

Unlike BTS, SmartStudy has found its niche with kiddie pop, targeting children aged between one and four with dance-along videos. It was established in 2010 by three former online gaming employees.

Mr Lee, 44, said the Korean educational app-to-video-maker's early days were tough but its business grew fast after the Baby Shark video went viral.

Revenue at closely-held SmartStudy is expected to have increased to 37 billion won (S$44.7 million) last year from 27.2 billion won and net income probably more than doubled to about five billion won, according to Mr Lee.

Digital sales account for about 70 per cent of its total business, with the rest coming from mainly physical sales such as merchandising, he said.

Samsung Publishing, which owns 25 per cent of SmartStudy, surged by the 30 per cent daily limit to a record high in Seoul yesterday.

For its next act, Mr Lee said the company will be developing content for older children, aged five to eight, and that he is looking beyond sharks and closely examining penguins.

"I really liked Madagascar," Mr Lee said, in reference to the DreamWorks Animation films that featured some penguins.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Baby Shark creator to expand kiddie content'. Print Edition | Subscribe