As of January 2015, the news-making discussion of how many times a K-drama has been viewed in a Chinese online streaming site or how much the licensed airing rights per episode sold for has come to a foreseeable end. Thanks to the new SARFT regulations that all overseas shows shown on Chinese streaming sites must (1) be completed airing, (2) fully subbed, and (3) submitted to SARFT for review and approved, the Chinese fans wanting to watch the 2015 K-dramas have so far reverted back to the days of the wild wild west, i.e. fansubbing and pirated episodes that are put up and taken down in a game of chase.
Buzzed about big name prime time dramas like Kill Me Heal Me and Hyde, Jekyll, Me haven’t been licensed yet and the news is out about what a hard hit the new SARFT regulations have on the bottom line. Since official licensing to Chinese streaming sites began about two years ago, Pinocchio retains the crown as selling for the highest per episode price of $280,000 US dollars. In December the bidding was as high as $400,000 per episode for Hyde, Jekyll, Me but the deal never closed due to the SARFT regulations going into effect and now insiders at SBS have revealed that the bidding has dropped to $100,000 per episode after January because having the official license isn’t as profitable if the drama can’t air for many months and in the meantime pirated episodes are out there.
SBS is reportedly unwilling to be low-balled and is holding back selling HJM until it gets a more reasonable offer, but realistically it won’t be anywhere near the anticipated $400,000 bid. That means Pinocchio will be holding onto that crown until and if SARFT changes the regulations to allow for simultaneous live-airings of overseas shows since any delay airing schedule will impact the value of the official license.
Without official licensing, it also means there won’t be viewer counts available anymore since episodes will be uploaded and viewed under the radar and many get taken down shortly thereafter. It’s basically going back what it was like when I started watching K-dramas, the days of digging for raws, subs, whatnot. This will leave You From Another Star the champion as the most online watched K-drama of all time in China and fans will no longer be able to tout how popular a K-drama is over in China based on view count.