K-ent Discussing KBS’s Prolonged Ratings Woes for the Past Two Years


This is certainly a depressing way to get some press, and even the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity doesn’t seem to apply here as I can’t see an upside. K-ent media is addressing the long running ratings woes that have plagued KBS, above and beyond the general ratings depressed landscape among all the broadcasters. Compared to MBC and SBS, both of which have had real drama hits however rare in the last few years, KBS has been by and large unable to have any drama that wins in traditional ratings and buzz. The network’s Mon-Tues offerings in the last two years have been slayed in a blood bath one after another, and the Wed-Thurs dramas haven’t done much better other than Unkind Women winning that time slot but not by much and also generated no buzz whatsoever, and last year Joseon Gunman did relatively well but also wasn’t as sticky with the viewers.

Pundits are wondering what the problem is with the network since on paper some of the dramas have fabulous casts (Masked Prosecutor, Discovery of Love, Assembly) or come from hit production teams (Blood from the Good Doctor team), or have built in fan bases and massive hype (Tomorrow’s Cantabile). Up next are dramas that remain on my radar but it’s no guarantee any will reverse KBS’s ratings woes: Mon-Tues has Oh My Venus with So Ji Sub and Shin Mina followed by Moorim School with Lee Hyun Woo and Seo Ye Ji, while Wed-Thurs has the biggest potential hit for the network with Kim Eun Seok‘s Descendants of the Sun with Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo airing in February 2016 after The Merchant: Gaekju 2015 ends it’s 32-episode run, and after DotS will be the Lee Kyung Hee penned melo Arbitrarily Fond with Kim Woo Bin and Suzy. Word from the production of DotS is that the drama will likely be pushed back yet again, so Arbitrarily Fond may get switched around airing dates with DotS. KBS really needs to pin its hopes to those two 2016 Wed-Thurs dramas.

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K-ent Discussing KBS’s Prolonged Ratings Woes for the Past Two Years — 36 Comments

  1. well, there was Producer, but it wasn’t in a traditional drama time slot so it doesn’t count. Same with What’s With This Family, it hit 40 percent in ratings but weekend dramas need to score that much to even be acknowledged as hits. KBS’ subsequent weekend dramas haven’t done that well, even if they’re not bombing like SBS’ weekend slot. And KBS’s other experiment with the Friday time slot for Spy and Orange Marmalade, bombed.

    I think KBS is really shooting itself in the foot by rushing so many productions. They cast both School 2015 and Sassy Go Go less than a month before their premiere dates, and in the case of SGG this meant the production was so squeezed for time that the cast couldn’t make it onto so much as a single variety show or do the usual slew of interviews to promote the drama. Youth dramas don’t do well on conventional ratings anyway, but the lack of promo hurt even more.

    • i guess you’re right about the exposure. If the shows are not properly promoted, people who basically rely on tv news and buzzfeeds may not get informed about what’s showing.

      large fan base surely helps in creating noise but audience nowadays are either choosy viewers or easily bored. The taste in the drama genre eventually change. Powerhouse casting make up the initial BANG but if the story or pacing eventually change, people tend to get lukewarm about it.

      so far i am have enjoyed and still enjoying a number of the shows: from the healer, blood, school, i remember you, and sassy.

  2. No idea, to be honest, most of my favourite shows this year came from KBS. There have been some really excellent productions, from discovery of love to healer to I remember you. Perhaps they just don’t speak to the korean audiences…

    That said, with the K-drama audience base growing outside of Korea, I don’t think bad ratings at home is everything anymore. Networks also get alot of $$$ selling these drama rights abroad, so that’s a source of income that’s not contingent on high TV ratings.

    • I think KBS has bombed big-time when it came to promoting shows and picking up dramas. For instance, trailers promoting Sassy Go Go as any old fluffy drama when it has enough issues to rival any School series drama. And not doing any publicity for it at all.

      It’s a real shame because some excellent dramas get overlooked and discounted that way.

      • Yes, they’re definitely not good at building up hype. They have lots of gems this year that they perhaps should have promoted more. I feel really bad about the low ratings of some excellent KBS dramas, the cast, crew and network deserved better.

        I find that SBS is on the other end of the spectrum. They really manage to build up buzz, and the drama gets so much coverage (I’m thinking Heirs and The Time We Were not in love). By the time it comes to air, it almost always feels like a disappointment, because we were all anticipating it so much, for so long! But I guess too much publicity is better than too little when it comes down to TV ratings.

    • It was the production company that was earning $$ when selling the drama overseas, not the networks. The tv network buy the rights from the prod company to air the drama in Korea.

      Besides, Asia’s demand of Kdrama in TV stations has been decreasing every year and piracy has been the biggest problem too. Yeah, kdrama audience is increasing but the revenues don’t. Also, dramas that does well in Korea (in terms of ratings) and have a strong hallyu following (like lee min ho and Kim Soo Hyun) will be sold better overseas

  3. Healer was just unlucky to come up against Punch on SBS. What is that about DotS being pushed back again??? I will have to imagine it in my head at this rate. :/

    • Healer is extremely unlucky to come against Punch (SBS) and Kill Me Heal Me (MBC). The three dramas are really good in its own anyway.
      But I’m happy that at least Healer got the recognition overseas. It was by far the most popular (internationally) Ji Chang Wook’s drama to date.

      • Healer was up against pride and prejudice, not kill me heal me. Kmhm was broadcast on Wednesday Thursday.

  4. Word from the production of DotS is that the drama will likely be pushed back yet again

    What word from the DotS production? The only source that has floated this idea was a PPL page selling placements for Arbitrarily and those are notoriously unreliable sources.

  5. well kbs can go back on their feet…they have great up coming drama such oh my venus and others…..and for mbc they dont have great drama they just lucky in ranting….and so sbs

  6. I think KBS had solid dramas which had untapped potentials. Most of the dramas are really popular online. The problem is that (almost) everyone’s doing (almost)everything online and they’re not taking advantage of it.

    Anyways, DoTS oh DoTS, I’m getting tired of waiting. This drama better be good.

  7. Producer was probably their best primetime hit in a long time. Which is why it’ll probably sweep the awards this year.

    • It’s most likely gonna sweep a lot more than KBS drama awards because of star power. But maybe some of the fall-winter dramas will bring KBS more fortune?

  8. KBS drama have potential but they should cast leads with Star Power in Korea.. ratings magnet leads that can pull the audience in even though the plot is mediocre. Just look at ‘Producer’. Or just stick to Makjang drama because the ratings depends on ahjumma.

    I blame Blood’s directing and acting for it’s failure. Healer is like City Hunter 2.0 and PMY is not well liked by Koreans. Cantabile’s writing and directing is the problem. Unkind Woman is makjang like so it will have good ratings. I remember you, the leads are not ratings magnet so I kinda expect it not to do well. School 2015 is a teen drama so they’ll watch it online.

    As long as they don’t mess up the writing of Oh My Venus and Descendants of Sun, they’ll get the ratings.

    How about they step up and get a timeslot for Goodbye Mr Black? Because Moon Chae Won picks good drama that do well with ratings.

  9. The Producers is really well received, extremely hyped and peaked brilliantly in the final episode (in terms of ratings). But thats their only exception so they should really be worried.

    On hindsight, I did love a lot of their dramas this year like School, Remember, the currently fantastic Sassy Go, Go and of course The Producers too. So maybe they just need to hype up their shows and promote it better.

  10. They don’t do enough promotions for their dramas.

    Look at MBC. The promotions for she was pretty and scholar who walks the night were massive.

  11. What a shame! And KBS had some of the best dramas this year in my opinion! Far more interesting than the ones produced at MBC or SBS. Their dramas: Healer, I Remember You, School 2015, the currently airing Sassy Go Go and more have been consistently high quality and had great scripts. Maybe their dramas don’t appeal to the local audience? I just hope they don’t get discouraged by this news and allow their dramas decline in quality just to please the local populace. Then THAT would really be a shame!

    • +1

      I agree with you totally. the dramas you mentioned were really good and even if they were not buzzy they were original and unique and that is more important than a drama wchich is hit and big in ratings.
      for example yong pal who was success in terms of ratings – started good and became mess.
      god’s gift – actually the drama was good until the crappy ending
      You’re all surrounded – not so bad rating but it was really mediocre.

    • YES! Totally what I was going to say. For me, School ended up being a disappointment, but Healer, I Remember You and Sassy are my favorite dramas this year. I just don’t understand why they get a cult following and nothing else. Me and my friends all love them, but it seems the ratings domestically were very low. It’s so sad.

  12. Too bad. I really liked Assembly and thought Unkind Women must have been generating a lot of discussion in Korea because it veered off into a strange direction (in my opinion). Thousands of us around the world are watching KBS shows on its you-tube channel but that’s not the same as millions of Koreans. I hope it can revitalize itself.

  13. The Merchants is doing good though ? The latest episodes recorded double digits ratings. For nowadays and for KBS in particular, it is really great.
    I expect it to get lots of love at the year end awards ceremonies along with Producers. Both of them deserve it so I am pretty fine 🙂

    • Do you watch it? is it any good? i like jang hyuk but the drama seems boring..is there romance in it? (yeap i love romance in my doramas hehe)

      • If I watch another Jang Hyuk drama I think it’ll take away that little bit of fondness I have left for him. I do agree with some people that he seems to act the same no matter what character he portrays. I’ll probably give it a year or so before I watch him again.

  14. What happens with Dots ? Push back again…sigh!!
    KBS week-end dramas after What up with my family just so-so be it on story lines or ratings.
    The only KBS most anticipating drama for me is just Song il kook saeguk drama ” Jung young sil “

  15. Not really related to KBS, but I also feel like China’s interest in K-drama and Hallyu has died down a lot. I mean, yes, there are still plenty people watching Korean dramas, but it is absolutely incomparable with the peak of its popularity (2012-2014). I still remember the times when everyone on Weibo were spazzing and spamming about K-dramas,and how it would always trend on Weibo whereas local productions didn’t really create any buzz or fanship. But people are really not that enthusiastic anymore. I thought Kim Soo Hyun and Lee Min Ho were big in China, but today, people like Luhan, TF Boys, Li Yifeng and even Yang Yang are even bigger than them. The SARFT regulation is a huge factor, but I also feel like Chinese people nowadays are much more interested in their local dramas, films, celebrities and variety shows, especially with major hit dramas like Nirvana in Fire, The Disguiser, and Hua Qian Gu etc. Everybody seems to be talking about it.

    BTW, has anyone watched Nirvana in Fire? Is it really THAT good?

    • it’s really good, at least better than previous dramas. i tend to skip few scenes if it’s not good, but the production in Nirvana in Fire was just wow…
      still waiting for next episodes though 😭😭 they only subbed until ep 26 while it has like.. 54 episodes.

  16. I think KBS drama department relies heavily in the yet-to broadcast DoTS. Now they’ve secured So Jisub – Shin Minah, Song Joongki – Song Hyekyo, and Kim Woobin – Suzy so their current weekdays dramas are like fillers to wait those big casts (and writers).

  17. Sad about the low ratings but I actually enjoyed watching Healer, Remember You, School 2015 & now Sassy Go Go. The cast were amazing. Maybe they just lacked promotions.

  18. i don’t care about the ratings, i just want a good story, and all good drama’s so far this year comes from KBS, Healer and I Remember You, i like School 2015 but not the love story, i just love Kim So-Hyun there and Yook Sung-Jae.

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