How AKB48 Can Revive by Balancing Exploitation and Exploration

AKB48 Group is the world’s largest girls idol group based in Tokyo, Japan. It contains six smaller constituent groups called sister groups with over 300 members in total. Naturally the popularity of each member is different which should follow a relatively symmetric unimodal distribution. Since there is no way every member can get equal and adequate opportunities to perform, a dozen or so prominent members are selected to receive half of the attention.  As the histogram below shows, however, the popularity distribution (measured by number of followers on Showroom) is very right skewed due to at least two effects: (1) the distribution of media exposure is extremely right skewed and (2) the number of years since joining the group is right skewed. We know that media exposure can shape member popularity by contrasting the popularity distribution to that of a more egalitarian group named Keyakizaka46, which has very symmetric and concentrated popularity distribution and media exposure distribution. Keyakizaka46 is able to achieve relative equality of media exposure due to its small size of 21 members (not counting under group members).

The distribution of the number of followers on Showroom is very right skewed. Source

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