ENHYPEN came into the world through the survival reality show “I-LAND,” which premiered on June 26. Fast forward to today, and their debut is less than a week away. How far has ENHYPEN come for the past five months, and where will they head next? Here is a summary of the journey ENHYPEN and their teenage fans from around the world have made so far. Check out the numbers that represent their past and present.

The World of “I-LAND” Teens Discovered

According to Good Data Corporation, a company that analyzes the popularity of television shows, the reality series “I-LAND” that cast the members of ENHYPEN was on the list of top 10 most buzzworthy non-drama television shows for 12 weeks since it first aired on the fourth week of June. The show also made it to the top 10 list of the Internet Reaction Survey (Media Buzz and Audience Buzz) conducted by RACOI (Korea Communication Commission’s Content Value Information Analysis System), from the fourth week of June to the third week of September. Yet, none of the other shows on the list had lower ratings than “I-LAND” over the same period. “I-LAND,” which aired simultaneously on Mnet and tvN, had relatively lower ratings. The highest rating was 1.7% (Nielsen Korea Ratings) for the season premiere.

The ratings may have been low, but in terms of popularity, a different story unfolds. Naver’s “Top Ten Trending Searches” offers a glimpse into the flood of reaction on the Internet. After the first episode aired, “I-LAND” topped Naver’s Top Ten Trending Searches for three hours and continued to enjoy a high ranking on the chart whenever a new episode aired. Immediately after the final episode ended, “I land” ranked 3rd, “I-LAND” written in Korean ranked 5th, and ENHYPEN’s agency “BELIFT LAB” ranked 2nd on the chart. Another good window into the popularity of “I-LAND” is Twitter, a platform favored by fandoms of different pop culture content. On Twitter’s real-time trending list, “I-LAND” written in Korean ranked 1st in Korea, and “I-LAND” ranked 6th worldwide for the season premiere. And for the final episode, “I-LAND,” in Korean ranked 1st in Korea, and “#ILANDTheFinale” ranked 1st worldwide. “Teens”, “fandoms”, and “worldwide”. These are the keywords that describe ENHYPEN now. Today’s teenage generation, also known as “Generation Z,” prefers YouTube over television and can talk all night on social media about their favorite things. Their content and reactions travel across the world, and they consume content through social media. It’s no wonder the existing ratings could not capture their reactions.

The live broadcast of “I-LAND” was accessible from anywhere around the world through Mnet and Big Hit Entertainment’s official YouTube channels. Each episode attracted an average of 280,000 viewers, and the highest accumulated number of concurrent viewers was 3.3 million. If you add these numbers together, the ratings of “I-LAND” look completely different. Generation Z is actively involved in the new media environment. They are more familiar with YouTube than television, and their reactions come simultaneously from Korea and around the world. The global votes for “I-LAND” were cast from as many as 178 countries, and the voters were distributed evenly across those countries. The interest for “I-LAND” and ENHYPEN demonstrates a changing media landscape. Generation Z is the generation that has come to the forefront of attention, and borders are becoming blurred as new fans from around the world consume and react to content in a radically different way. Though we may not see it, changes are already taking place.
ENHYPEN Broadens the World’s Horizons

ENHYPEN quickly absorbed the interest for “I-LAND” as soon as the final episode ended. Official social media accounts were created after the team was formed, and essential content for a new team, such as the logo trailer, official profile photos, and a series of short video logs from the members titled “-note” was released. Within 45 days (as of November 3) of the team’s formation, ENHYPEN uploaded 52 videos on the official YouTube channel and 173 posts on the members’ Twitter account, and had twelve VLIVE broadcasts. They released a wide range of content through diverse channels and communicated with their fans.

Such efforts translated into the various figures derived from ENHYPEN’s social media accounts. For example, ENHYPEN’s first VLIVE received over 10 million hearts in just five minutes, and by the time the live broadcast ended, there were 1.7 million viewers and more than 159.8 million hearts. The explosion of interest continued with the rapid increase of followers on social media. The members’ Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok accounts amassed more than one million followers each within a month, and the number of ENHYPEN community subscribers on Weverse hit three million. In the lead-up to their debut, ENHYPEN gained popularity through social media. And they turned to social media yet again to grow their influence after their debut was announced. Social media now stands at the center of the fandom culture, where content and fan reactions go hand in hand. Members of Generation Z have become so integrated into the medium to the point of being called “social media natives” or “fan natives.” Instead of following popular trends, they choose the content they like and bring different tastes together. The solidarity built through sharing and empathy serves as a virtuous cycle of connection that gradually broadens their horizons and helps them stand firm.
Generation Z Rises Like the Break of Dawn

After announcing their debut schedule, ENHYPEN has been releasing debut trailers as well as teaser photos and videos. The global interest formed through social media with Generation Z at the center is being directed to the debut content, and the stories of the content are being unveiled one piece at a time. These developments signal the beginning of ENHYPEN’s journey onward. ENHYPEN attracted widespread interest quickly thanks to the extensive publicity generated by the reality survival show and promotions on global platforms. Now is the time for ENHYPEN to show whether what they have achieved so far was simply “given” or was “taken” by themselves. Would ENHYPEN be able to demonstrate that the existing standard, such as TV ratings, do not reflect the support of teens and the values of their generation? This is a question that Generation Z has also been grappling with. Dealing with prolonged low growth, they have to make constant effort to prove themselves in whichever field they are in amidst fierce competition. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are faced with greater uncertainties than ever. ENHYPEN was born into this world of uncertainty. In the ever-changing media landscape, the challenge is to prepare for the post-COVID-19 era, which is far from predictable. ENHYPEN must overcome these obstacles and take the stage where they will prove themselves. It’s time for youthful adolescents to rise like the break of dawn.
Article. Yejin Lee
Design. Peace of Paper