Big Three Networks SBS, MBC, and KBS to Cut Prime Time K-drama Production in Half in 2021 After Another Lackluster Ratings Year in 2020

Sigh, this is what happens when the product value drops and people find alternative options. If I could watch K-dramas on television to help with domestic ratings I would because I love the variety available and to know that low ratings = fewer CFs sold = losing money which ultimately leads to fewer K-dramas being produced and that sucks. K-ent is reporting this week (article) that 2020 is basically a total dud for the Big Three networks MBC, KBS, and SBS when it comes to their prime time dramas despite four more months remaining. All three networks have announced that it will be essentially cutting its K-drama production in half in 2021, and actually it’s already decreased this year from prior years. KBS had 12 prime time dramas this year and is scheduling only 7 for next year, and same goes with MBC scheduling 6 and SBS is scheduling 8 for next year.

The different ways to try and make money hasn’t work – from splitting each episode in half to broadcast more CFs, sell from PPL, and create different drama formats like 4-episode and 8-episode dramas. SBS took the boldest move of ending Wed-Thurs dramas (which used to be THE most coveted time slot) and starting Fri-Sat prime time dramas and focusing on Mon-Tues dramas, but that hasn’t worked out either. Only Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim 2 got high ratings, and the few SBS dramas to get above 5% ratings Hyena, Good Casting, and The King: Eternal Monarch still did not make money for SBS due to the high cost of each episode production especially with The King. An insider explained that drama productions cost billions of won and the Big Three networks are basically unable to recoup cost and definitely can’t make a profit, and also competition from cable networks and cheaper variety shows are making it untenable for this to continue much longer.

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