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SBS cuts drama programming, reshapes weekend lineup

SBS is cutting its weekend drama programming in half in the new year, taking its current Saturday-Sunday lineup of back-to-back dramas down to merely one drama hour each night. Wow, I’m surprised at the move, because I’ve just expected that weekends would forever be the day when the broadcasters do family dramas back to back.

However, SBS announced on the 16th that they will be nixing the earlier hour (the one that started at 8:45 pm), leaving intact the later 10 pm slot. Currently, SBS is airing Modern Farmer in that hour (Birth of a Beauty has the later timeslot) and there are already two dramas in the works to follow, The Family Is Coming starring Jin Yi-han and another called Serialized Divorce Lawyer. In May, the slot will be given up to non-drama programming—perhaps variety or current events, though SBS is undecided as of yet.

I suppose you could look to low ratings as the cause of the decision, as with all things in dramaland these days. The earlier hour hasn’t been great for SBS all year; it’s basically pulled in single-digit numbers since Passionate Love, which ended in March, which was followed by Feel-Good Day, which got shortened. Even last year when Wonderful Mama on the air, SBS was dogged with rumors of its doing away with its weekend slots.

On the one hand, SBS has had this weekend format in place for 23 years, so perhaps it’s a bummer to see the end of an era. On the other hand, starting in May the remaining Saturday-Sunday slot will be given over to miniseries—and I am completely in favor of fewer long family dramas (which tend to be very formulaic) and more miniseries. So if SBS is cutting dead weight to give more attention to (hopefully) fresher material, I certainly see the silver lining in the situation. Better to attempt to innovate than cling to a dying model and bleeding money. We hope.

Via Osen

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Interesting...I guess we'll see what they come up with in the future.

Also I see that this weekend only has one episode of Modern Farmer and Birth of a Beauty right? So MF won't actually end this weekend?

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Nope it won't! This weekend is the beginning of the award shows starting with the Gayo Daejun on SBS :)

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Thanks! I'm not sure if I'm excited that I'll have a bit more time to savor the end or bummed that it'll be in the middle of holiday visits. But award shows are always a plus.

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JB, I just left you a comment in contact page ! Since it was about drama schedules , I will add it here as well. ( And also because I am doubtful if you will be opening up your inbox :P )
Please add cable drama schedules to prime time drama airing section on side of the page ! TVN and OCN's line up would be nice to see and track ! I can Google it, yes, but I WANT it on Dramabeans :D

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Great idea. So do I, as I use DB as my TV guide to see which drama is airing. It would be nice to know what dramas air on certain days, like Fridays for instance, and for the once-a-week shows. With so many shows on cable and prime time tv, it's getting hard to keep track of them all.

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Yes, please.

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I second this.

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Thank you very kamsa!

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Ha!

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Yes please add it to our DB site. Thanks?

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I would live this too...especially if it's shows that are recapped anyway.

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Or maybe replace the 'Currently Airing' list with a 'Currently Watching' list, since the whole weekly lineup might be too long?

I'd like to know the shows JB et al. have found compelling enough to start watching, even if they're not being recapped. It'd be a good recommendation list and would help us know what's coming in the year end reviews.

This may not be practical from a moderation standpoint, but it'd also be nice to have a weekly (open) thread for each show to give us a place to talk about it. I'd really like to know what others have to say about shows I'm watching that don't have recaps, but don't have time to sort through the weekly open thread.

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Yes! Yes! I really like Gidget's idea!

It just passed through the thought channel (I grandiosely call, my mind) and disappeared and it never occurred to me to make a request for it!

Please let us have an OT (per show) with just the title of each show that is not recapped so beanies who are watching can discuss it. Pretty please???? *aegyo wiggle* :D

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Agree!
I like dramabeans tv guide, would love to have all drama in
ever channel (is that too much to ask?)
Thank you dramabeans

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I would also like to see tvN and OCN's line up added to the schedule on Dramabeans, if possible.

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I'd been looking for that, too. I would love to see the cable channels' schedules on the side along with the main tv stations.

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Here are my 2 cents too! Please - cable shows are sometimes the best ones on.

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Question for Javabeans: How much do you think the timeslot a drama is shown in actually contributes to poor ratings? Because whenever a station isn't doing so well that's the first thing they seem to change but shouldn't they actually be looking more at which dramas are big hits and then change the actual dramas themselves? A hit drama's going to be a hit in any timeslot, yes?

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"A hit drama’s going to be a hit in any timeslot, yes?"
Sadly, not always. For example The Greatest Marriage on TV Chosun was crushed by its rival Jang Bo Ri: 0.4% for its 1st eps in the 8.45PM slot. They changed to 1 ep a week at 11PM and tada! 1% was reached. Less viewers available or interested in that early time slot, it seems.

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Yeah, I think the dismal ratings are especially bad in comparison to KBS and MBC's long weekend dramas. I suppose offering something different to their competitors makes sense (with just doing miniseries now).

Still, miniseries usually have a higher budget than family dramas so if they're not successful either they might lose more money in the long run. Tbh I don't like either Modern Farmer or Birth of a Beauty, but I will totally embrace less makjang weekend shows in the future. I am sick to death of them lol. So maybe this isn't such a bad thing.

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Modern Farmer: 3.6% for episode 17. Ouch! As a big channel you can't keep going on like that. It's not even a question of 50, 36 or 16 eps. The audience ran away for multiple reasons, first one being -bad- dramas.
SBS promised a change in 2015 with very good dramas (compared to the weak 2014 mileage) but what I read so far about their new shows is not that impressive to be honest. I would be happy to be proven wrong though.

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Ditto. Too many badly written shows and trying to be quirky like the cable dramas, but not doing it well enough. Modern Farmer like Birth of a Beauty are tanking in the ratings, because they just don't appeal to viewers, but local and international.

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Modern Farmer is not a bad show in the least. It's humor just might not appeal to everyone which is fine. There are still alot of people that enjoy it and love the characters. Birth of a Beauty is actually quite popular overseas.

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I absolutely second this. I quite enjoy this show and from what I ve seen its quite popular in its own right. While this brand of humour may not suit everyone's taste, it does deserve a chance for being both humourous and heart warming at the same time... I do agree that some of the later episodes dint quite live up to my expectations but it has yet to disappoint me..

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They should do a post mortem why many people are not watching Modern Farmer ? Maybe they should stick to more "family oriented " dramas ? and truthfully makjang sells as much as we hated it ...

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As much as I dislike over-the-top ridiculous makjang, once in a while I realized some shows need some makjang mixed in.
I guess makjang is just like MSG, too much will be harmful for you but without it, the drama is tasteless... If it done right, some makjang elements make really interesting drama.

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Agree? a little Makkah is fine if it's done well with a twist

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SBS weekend dramas have always been kind of flops as far as I can remember, especially compared to KBS and MBC.....didn't they cancel Endless Love earlier this year? And that was as makjang as they came, with a rape storyline and all.

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i liked endless love until it got--well-- just a little too endless.

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Miniseries could have potential as long as the stories are fresh. Not all stories require 16 (or greater) episodes.

KBS World does a good job with their drama specials. Most are single episodes , some go to four. If SBS can do something similar it might work.

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Even here in the US a Friday/Saturday night time slot is usually reserved for a dying series still on loyal fan life support or pilots. Sunday is gold here though. If your Sunday show moves to Saturday or Friday you know it's almost over, like Hell On Wheels. I can't say I blame them, although Modern Farmer has been a great fun little comedy that I look forward to each week. I really like Hongki. I enjoyed Bride of the Century this year. I think he's a bit underrated as a television actor. He certainly has all the criteria, he's cute, he can cry, he can sing, and he's got decent comic timing. Something that I've noticed several "top" Korean actors don't possess. Everyone can't be funny, comedy is not easy.

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I've just started getting into Family dramas, but I can understand the change. Glorious Day on SBS has been my favorite family drama due to the lack of makjang, but maybe that's why it's ratings were so low?

I can't recall SBS having a Family Drama that was as successful as say Smile, Donghae or the like.
Similar that drama is makjang filled to the brim, but I still enjoyed it. Had to skip some of the first half due to how our leads kept getting treated.

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Modern Farmer is actually a good drama imo. they have touched many social issues in Korea like single mother, foreign workers, mix marriage, free trade etc. i love Lee Honey character the most. it's really rare to see a strong female lead in Kdramas. she is my hero!
but then again Korean and overseas fans prefer eye candy chebols and makjangs.

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btw Modern Farmer already sold to Japan. thanks, Hongki :)

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It's kind of sad Modern Farmer and Birth of a Beauty aren't doing well in ratings. :/ Although I didn't have high expectations going into either, I found myself truly enjoying both; they're definitely among the better dramas that have released this year. I'm actually surprised by the lack of ratings for Modern Farmer-- it has the pretty idol boys who can actually act and sing, the humour, the feel-good moments, heart. I do wonder if it would've had more luck airing on a smaller channel more suited to its vibe; it would've fit right in with tVN's offerings, for example.

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Maybe they could try something like the made for TV movies, that would easily fill up two hours each day and I'm guessing would be a new format in S.Korea.

They could film them mostly in the studio and cut down on location cost. More projects could be in the works at the same time because production time would be shorter, offering more opportunities to up and coming actors,writers and directors. It would also allow for a broader spectrum of genre's .

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As I noted in my comment on Javabeans' year-end review the only BIG story of 2014 was the plummeting ratings. I expect we will see more tweaking of programming in the coming months. The biggest question remains what KBS possibly can do?

But for SBS and MBC it is still more than uncertain if they will have anything as popular as YFAS and Empress Ki in 2015. The best bet so far is Hyun Bin's new outing, and Kim Eun Sook's upcoming show. But will they deliver? The future looks grim for kdramas.

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The fact remains that younger audiences are migrating to online viewing - a fact that became apparent 5 years ago with You're Beautiful (single digit ratings but a huge craze on korean search engines and portals, with fan meetings and merchandise selling out everywhere)......and looks like 2014 has become the year when all the chickens came home to roost. The only dramas even touching the 15 percent and up mark these days, are the weekend dramas - SBS etc should start taking online ratings seriously too.

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I think to most tv fans this is pretty obvious, but networks remain sruck in their old models. Viewer habits and the migration to streaming video are the main culprits. US networks are still clinging to the broadcast ratings for dear life, since those ratings drive advertising rates. A static programming grid makes the assumption that viewers are in front of the tube, when in fact we're at work, the gym, with our kids, in traffic ... demands on everyone's time just increase. My free time aligns with no prime time schedule, but my streaming services are always available.

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As you may know, recent episodes of SBS Dramas "My Heart Twinkle-Twinkle" and "The Family is Coming" would only rate around 2-3% per episode.

In comparison, recent episodes of JTBC's Maids would rate 3-4%

Considering that as the only private Free-to-air network in South Korea, they are expected to formulate programs that will cater more viewers and better ad income compared to MBC and KBS, being defeated by these two is very bad for SBS. But being defeated by a cable channel is a different story.

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