Although I-LAND saw disappointing viewership, the interest in ENHYPEN, the boy group to come out of the show, is through the roof.
I-LAND is the first project of BELIEF+, a joint venture established in March last year by CJ ENM, which has accumulated know-how through years of audition programs, and Big Hit Entertainment, which has raised BTS as superstars, to discover next-generation global idols. But throughout the show, it received both expectations and concerns. Although the “observation-type reality” program, which is different from the previous survival shows that dealt with fierce competition, tried to capture the applicants’ growth, the ratings were disastrous and the criticisms were harsh.
It is true that concerns are focused on the lack of popularity the show received. It was thanks to the success of the show that the groups that debuted through the Mnet’s Produce 101 series were able to reach the top as soon as they released the album and grew into “monster” rookie groups. However, it is too early to make a hasty decision. The fact that the show received more attention from overseas fans is why we need to wait for ENHYPEN’s official activities.
In the last episode of I-LAND, which aired on Sept. 18, seven debut members were confirmed: Jungwon, Jay, Jake, Ni-ki, Heeseung, Sunghoon, and Sunoo. The group held their first V LIVE a day after the show ended and garnered 1.07 million viewers. Even before their official debut, subscribers to the global official fan community platform Weverse surpassed 2.85 million.
ENHYPEN followed the same steps that BTS took. Just as BTS has built and grown its worldview through a story-telling album, I-LAND devoted all its energy to building the narrative instead of focusing on general taste. It captured growth and competition in a space equipped with practice rooms, residential areas, and variable performance stages. The applicants chose their own teams and carried out various missions, and through the process, they not only boosted individual capabilities but also strengthened teamwork.
ENHYPEN is composed of multinational members, drawing attention from global fans. Jungwon, Heeseung, Sunghoon, and Sunoo are Koreans, Jay is a Korean-American, Jake is a Korean-Australian, and Ni-ki is a Japanese. Fans from 177 countries participated in I-LAND‘s votes, and digital clips also proved to be a hot topic in overseas countries. Up to the 11th episode of I-LAND, which was broadcast live through global platforms such as YouTube, the cumulative number of viewers reached about 37 million, and the number of digital clip views exceeded 17.5 billion views.
Attention is focusing on whether ENHYPEN, which has just established its foundation through I-LAND, will be able to move fans’ hearts like BTS, which has expanded its worldview and built a strong fandom.