Merriam-Webster defined the metaverse as an “immersive three-dimensional virtual world in which people interact as avatars with each other and with software agents, using the metaphor of the real world but without its physical limitations.”
Metaverse has been considered the next big tech trend, especially in the past years when the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the contactless era. Industries have been slowly integrating metaverse into their businesses, and it’s not limited to the technology-driven but mainstream industries as well. Music Videos of K-Pop groups have started using metaverse. For one, aespa used metaverse in their MV “Black Mamba” in 2021.
Recently, BLACKPINK won an award in the VMAs for “Best Metaverse Performance” through their collab with PUBG Mobile in their MV “Ready For Love.”
Even TV networks are utilizing metaverse as part of their show’s concept. MBN debuted a big-budget project, Avatar Singer, which started airing on August 26. The new show prided itself as the first music show in Korea with a twist: recognized musicians invited to the show perform through a digital avatar onstage.
Hiding their real identity, the competing musicians perform through their avatars, which copy their dancing, singing, and facial expressions. These avatars perform in front of an audience and a panel that will guess the artist behind each avatar. The production team revealed that each episode of this 15-episode show costed an estimate of ₩1.00 billion KRW (about $715,000 USD) to produce.
Another network, TV Chosun, is launching a new music show that features virtual humans. Ava Dream premieres on Oct. 3 in a similar format to Avatar Singer. The show features twenty-four singers, referred to as Dreamers, with a virtual version of themselves to perform and will also present a collaborative act with their avatar.
Comedians Lee Yong Jin and Yoo Se Yoon will be hosts, actress Yoo In Na, comedians Yang Se Hyung and Lee Jin Ho, and singer Kim Hyeon-Cheol will star as the “dream catchers” who will guess the artists.
JTBC‘s four-part reality dating show, Love In, had a new concept of dating in virtual space. A group of singles were isolated in separate rooms and went on blind dates with each other for three days without actually knowing what the other person looked like. The participants interacted only through their avatars while trying to find a genuine connection.
The sad reality, though, is Love Is and Avatar Singer have not performed well in the rating game, despite their unique concepts. Avatar Singer started with a 1.4% rating on its first episode and went down further to 0.8% for its second episode. Love In viewership rating was a disappointing 0.4% for most of its episodes.
Pop culture critic Ha Jae Keun said that metaverse still has many limitations in making a show.
Metaverse itself has several limitations to be incorporated into the entertainment industry. TV shows, to begin with, have to be set on an easy-to-follow concept and star celebrities in person to participate in something that draws the audiences’ empathy.
But when it starts involving digitalized, computer-related concepts, it gets complicated and twists the flow, which makes it harder to capture the audiences’ interest. And as the quality of the technology is still below the top standard, it tends to bring down the quality of the show a little bit.
—Ha Jae Keun
Still, he thinks experimenting with metaverse or any new technology on TV programs is worth a try for the networks. Networks always need to find something new to offer and thus must keep gearing up for innovations in their shows.