4.2. Data Coding
We coded only for video content that met the criteria for this study. The criteria were as follows: (1) paid video content was excluded; (2) video clips edited from full versions of live-streamed content with the “V Pick” logo were excluded, because they were not newly uploaded; and (3) re-uploaded video clips from the past, edited, and trending in live-streaming were excluded because they were not newly uploaded (e.g., BTS from two years ago, Nu’est from two years ago). In 2017, the total video content on the top five Star channels was 1224; of these, 620 videos were selected for coding in accordance with the criteria. The following data were coded for each video. There were three independent variables for content factors: 1) production company, 2) type of video content, and 3) whether the video content was live-streamed. The three dependent variables indicating the popularity of video content were: 1) number of comments, 2) hearts, 3) views. For each video content, the following factors were coded:
The first independent variable, production company, identified whether a production company produced the video content and the type of company. There were three options. Some video content was produced without a production company, as in the case of free-style live-streaming. Video content was also produced by V Live itself and by outsourced companies such as entertainment management agencies (See Table 2
The second independent variable, type of video content, was categorized into a total of eight types based on previous studies [16
]. All 620 videos were classified into mutually exclusive sub-categories (See Table 2
The eight types of video content were as follows: (1) Free-style live-streaming, (2) Music/Choreography, (3) Offline event-related live-streaming, (4) Series-edited video content, (5) Non-series-edited video content, (6) Series live-streaming, (7) Non-series live-streaming, and (8) Others.
(1) Free-style live-streaming focuses on a K-pop star at home or in a car in a casual manner, without a purpose or script. In such a case, the K-pop star suddenly starts live-streaming without any notice and without the participation of a production company. (2) Music/Choreography is pre-edited video content with no subtitles such as dance performances, music videos, and voices of K-pop stars. (3) Offline event-related live-streaming is live broadcasting of events held offline, such as concerts and press conferences. (4) Series-edited video content is an edited series of broadcasts for which the content, script, and subtitles are clearly planned; these are produced by outsourced companies such as entertainment management agencies. (5) Non-series-edited video content consists of edited one-off broadcasts with planned content, scripts, and subtitles produced by outsourced companies such as entertainment management agencies. (6) Series live-streaming is a series of live broadcasts for which the content and script are planned, unlike free-style live-streaming. This video content is produced not only by V Live, but also by outsourced companies such as entertainment management agencies. (7) Non-series live-streaming is a category of one-off live broadcasts for which the content and script are clearly planned. Such video content is produced by outsourced companies (such as entertainment management agencies) and by V Live. (8) The “Others” category includes short video content that K-pop stars provide to fans such as holiday greetings and encouragement for college entrance exams.
The third independent variable, “whether a video content is live-streamed or not,” indicates whether a video content is not a recording but a live broadcast. Compared to other services, V Live provides both K-pop-specific video content that enables viewers to communicate directly with stars, and that V Live or outsourced companies have previously filmed, edited, and subtitled. As one characteristic of video content, we examined whether live-streaming content gains more popularity than recorded video content, or vice versa. Among eight types of video content, free-style live-streaming, offline event-related live-streaming, series live-streaming, and non-series live-streaming are all live (Dummy variable = 0). Four additional content types, music/choreography, series-edited video content, non-series-edited video content, and “others” are previously recorded (Dummy variable = 1).
We controlled several factors affecting the dependent variable. Judging from the new fandom trend, “Heart Labor [7
],” the video content of K-pop stars with large fandoms is preferred and viewed more than that of K-pop stars with small fandoms. “Heart Labor” describes the act of quickly pressing the heart button on V Live to increase the number of hearts. During live-streaming on V Live, fans cannot send cyber money (as with AfreecaTV’s “Star Balloons” or Twitch’s “Donations”) to K-pop stars; instead, V Live viewers press the “hearts,” which indicates the popularity of video content and that of their favorite K-pop stars. To investigate the effect of V Live content on dependent variables, it is necessary to control for the popularity of K-pop stars themselves. Specifically, as the selected top-five channels were all vocal groups, the number of V Live channel subscribers and mini-album sales for each group were used to measure the popularity of the K-pop groups.
The number of V Live channel subscribers indicates how many V Live viewers subscribe to each channel; this variable can be used to measure the popularity of each K-pop group. Since the number of channel subscribers varies from hour to hour each day, we used the value on June 1, 2018 when the data were collected. At that time, there were 11,034,567 BTS channel subscribers; 3,386,062 SEVENTEEN channel subscribers; 2,487,123 TWICE channel subscribers; 739,048 GFRIEND channel subscribers; and 702,408 Nu’est channel subscribers.
The album-sales variable indicates the number of albums sold by each K-pop group in 2017. In this study, album sales were based on Gaon Music Chart. Gaon Music Chart is a South Korean official music chart published by Korea Music Content Association (KMCA), which is affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism; they consider it necessary to have an official domestic music chart, like the U.S. Billboard chart and Japan’s Oricon music chart. The Gaon Chart monitors album sales by counting the number of released records minus the number of returned records. The number and type of albums released by K-pop groups in 2017 were different. TWICE released two repackaged albums, one mini-album, and one regular album; total album sales were 1,048,746, and mini-album sales were 285,294. Nu’est released only one mini-album; thus, total album sales and mini-album sales were 308,108. Regular albums, repackaged albums, and mini-albums are different in character and not comparable. Total album sales and mini-album sales showed a high correlation; the correlation coefficient was 0.910 (p < 0.000). The presence of highly correlated independent variables in a regression equation can lead to multicollinearity problems. To compare album sales of the five K-pop groups, mini-album sales were set as an album-sales variable, based on Nu’est, which released only one mini-album.
Variables such as “previewed or not” and “cumulative number of days since video content was uploaded” were also controlled for in this study. “Previewed or not” indicates whether the video content was uploaded after a preview. On previewed live-streaming, viewers can press “hearts” before the live-streaming begins. In either case, the heart button can be pressed after live-streaming ends [7
]. For previewed video content, data include the number of hearts and comments accumulated before live-streaming begins; for non-previewed video content, data include only those hearts and comments that accumulate after live-streaming begins.
The “cumulative number of days since video content was uploaded” indicates the period from when the video content was uploaded to when the study data were collected. Data used in this study were collected in June 2018, not when the video content was uploaded. In other words, depending on when the video content was uploaded, viewers may have had more or less time to repeat the video content, comment on it, or press the heart button. For example, it is assumed that video content A was uploaded in January 2017, and video content B was uploaded in December 2017. As this study’s data were collected in June 2018, video content A had been online for 18 months, while video content B had been online for only six months. There was thus a gap of 12 months (one year) between uploads of video contents A and B. As a result, the popularity of video content A reflected the number of comments, views, and hearts accumulated over an 18-month period since upload, while the popularity of video content B reflected the same data gathered over a six-month period. To address these time gaps, the variable “cumulative number of days since video content was uploaded” was used to control the number of comments, views, and hearts indicating the popularity of video content.