As it has been explored in previous posts, creativity wields diverse values, especially when amplified by the dynamic channels of social media or specific platforms, such as fan-generated content. Numerous artists enthusiastically embrace their passions with the primary goal of sharing and enhancing the online communities they are a part of. But what’s interesting is that in some cases, online platforms also offer a great opportunity to monetize this creativity, making it a profitable venture and a source of influence.
The case of Webtoon is a perfect example of this phenomenon. This is an online platform that focuses on the diffusion of a type of graphic novels: webtoons. A type of online comics or colored manga. Originally, they were launched on a platform with the same name in south Korea, where the influence of manga and similar content made it familiar for users to give this type of content a try.
In short, a webtoon is a form of graphic content specifically designed for consumption on a smartphone or similar device, and as such, it deviates from the conventions of traditional editorial styles. Typically, it is presented in a single, continuous strip, allowing users to effortlessly scroll down as they progress through the story. The surge in popularity of webtoons has also spurred the exploration of various genres like science fiction, romance, action, and slices of life, all of which revolve around narratives centered on ordinary individuals and realistic scenarios.
They offer a convenient and easily accessible form of entertainment, and perhaps most importantly, they are highly engaging. While the level of artistic merit and narrative depth may vary from one story to another, there are surprisingly high-quality and captivating tales to be found. Furthermore, there are financial incentives that continue to enhance the quality of content authors are willing to produce for their stories.
Webtoon shares the revenue generated from advertisements displayed alongside stories with their creators. According to their official website, 50% of the ad revenue generated within a story goes directly to the author. Additionally, the platform monetizes its operations by offering a “fast pass” service. Essentially, this feature allows readers to access earlier content in exchange for a specific number of coins. In the past, 10 coins were sold for a dollar, but now, you can obtain 7 coins. Even in this context, it appears that prices have risen despite the growing popularity of webtoons.
The success of certain stories has translated into the creation of television adaptations, with “True Beauty”serving as a prime example. This teen romance story, which originally gained a billion views on the webtoon platform, caught the attention of Netflix. As a result, Netflix acquired the cinematic rights and transformed it into a series in 2021. The audience’s enthusiastic reception of these shorter adaptations (comprising 16 episodes in the case of the Netflix adaptation) and similar successes of other webtoon adaptations underscore the trend’s undeniable appeal.
The burgeoning trend of streaming platforms seeking creative content from external sources is especially captivating. With a staggering 900,000 creators on Webtoon alone, it’s an arena where virtually anyone can assume the role of an author and display their creative talents. And while there are indications that the writers’ strike in Hollywood may be showing signs of resolution, investing in this type of content remains a valuable strategy to address the current creative shortage plaguing the industry.
Thus, streaming platforms are not limiting themselves to traditional sources of creative and original content to support their operations. This shift raises an important question: does it pose a threat to professional writers, or could it instead provide an excellent opportunity for aspiring creators to introduce diverse forms of entertainment to wider audiences?
Indeed, the success witnessed in this form of content has ignited a hunger for more imaginative and original narratives that captivate audiences. Webtoons have emerged as a wellspring for adaptable screenplays and storytelling. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that while they offer a fresh outlet, they don’t entirely resolve the challenges confronting streaming platforms and the broader Hollywood landscape. The scarcity of creativity remains a pressing issue, one that demands innovative solutions and a reimagining of traditional approaches to content creation.