The scaling back of drama production late last year has led to a surprising outcome. Though major networks have tried to cut back on dramas citing low ratings, recent projects have seen dramatic improvements in this area. "When the Camellia Blooms" hit ratings of 23.8% late last year.
But prior to that point, summer had been filled with projects that had underperformed relative to expectations and budgets. "Perfume", "Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung", "Justice", and "Doctor Detective" all struggled in the 4% to 7% range. Consequently, SBS decided to drop the Wednesday/Thursday timeslot, while KBS and MBC dropped the Monday/Tuesday timeslot from their lineups.
The decrease in dramas has led to a more careful vetting of which projects get greenlighted. This, coupled with the decrease in relative competition, has allowed for individual moments of outstanding performances. Both "Stove League" and "Dr. Romantic 2" have now experienced ratings above 15%, showing that major successes can even be airing simultaneously in multiple timeslots.
However, one metric may be more negatively affected. "Extraordinary You" had poor ratings last year, but high interest on social media. The drama also had high download rates among younger viewers more inclined toward alternative means of viewing dramas that are not measured by traditional ratings systems. Still, for now, 2020 is looking to be a strong year for dramas.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's News] Fewer Dramas Yield Stronger Ratings"
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