Webtoon, the popular mobile online comics platform owned by Korean tech giant Naver, just announced its payments to English-language comics creators and the results are eye-opening in an industry not famous for its generosity to artists and writers. According to Webtoon, payouts to English-language creators topped $27 million since 2020, or more than $1 million per month on average. That represents an increase of nearly 75% since launching its creator monetization program in the US in 2019.
Those results are in line with the massive growth Webtoon has seen in the past several years, surpassing 82 million monthly active users on its app globally (15 million in the US) according to statistics recently released by the company.
Creators earn revenues from users who subscribe to their serialized stories. Subscribers get exclusive early access to new episodes for a small monthly fee. Top features on the site such as Lore Olympus by Rachel Smyth garner billions of views and millions of subscribers.
In Webtoon’s home turf of South Korea, where the market for this kind of content and business model is more mature, the top-earning creator earned more than $9 million last year.
As with any platform, there is a power curve where a few top features account for a majority of revenue, views and subscribers, with a long tail of material that generates significantly less.
Webtoon clearly hopes that sharing the bounty of growth with creators will give the company an advantage competing for the talent and material that the rising generation craves. Last year the US comics market grew more than 60% to over $2.1 billion, reflecting an enormous appetite for sequential art in all formats, across all genres.