Tunnel breaks ratings record for OCN, gets reward vacation
Cable network OCN is really on a roll with its original programming this year, both in terms of critical praise and viewership ratings. Its last weekend thriller Voice broke ratings records for the station (previously held by Police Unit 38), and now its follow-up drama Tunnel has broken the record yet again to become the new highest-rated drama in OCN’s history, and the cast and crew have been rewarded with a vacation to Guam at the end of May.
Tunnel, starring Choi Jin-hyuk as a 1980s homicide detective who time-travels to the present, premiered strong at 2.8% and steadily gained a following through critical praise and positive word of mouth. It seemed poised to break the ratings record at OCN (held by Voice at 5.637%) despite the one-week pre-emption last weekend, and sure enough, Sunday’s Episode 14 brought in 6.3% average ratings (and peaked at 7.1%).
I coincidentally started watching Tunnel two nights ago, and enjoyed it so much I wondered why in the hell it took me so long to watch it. I see why it’s receiving comparisons to Signal, though it’s nowhere near as mind-blowing or fast; I think Tunnel’s strength is that it’s emotionally grounded in this one amazing leading character, and everyone else is connected to him in an unexpected way. It’s intricately plotted but not dense, and often just really funny—Choi Jin-hyuk and Yoon Hyun-min have great chemistry, and my favorite thing is the banmal-jondaemal hijinks between Choi Jin-hyuk and his old partner, who’s now an ajusshi.
I think OCN is a really interesting case of a niche cable network that built its identity around a very small and specific subset of original dramas—crime thrillers of all shapes and sizes—and succeeded by doing that one genre extremely well. For better or worse, OCN has become synonymous with “hard-edged crime thriller” despite the fact that the station mostly airs movies, and they usually only air one original drama at a time in the Saturday-Sunday slot. On the one hand, this limits their foray into other genres—they recently ventured into rom-coms with My Secret Romance on Monday-Tuesday, but it hasn’t even broken 1%. But on the other hand, it’s built a reputation for high-quality thrillers and is now raking in numbers to compete with the big fish. Nicely played, OCN. Nicely played.
Tunnel will finish its run on May 21, and then clone thriller Duel follows in June.
- Pre-emptions in store for Chicago Typewriter, Rebel, Tunnel, Whisper
- Tunnel: Episode 1
- Mysterious dots and missing bodies in OCN’s Tunnel teaser
- Choi Jin-hyuk runs like crazy to solve a serial murder case in Tunnel
- Time-slipping to catch a killer in OCN’s Tunnel
- Choi Jin-hyuk pursues hooded man from past to future in Tunnel
- Vixx’s N joins OCN’s Tunnel as young police officer
- Past detective Choi Jin-hyuk emerges from time-traveling Tunnel
- Yoon Hyun-min, Choi Jin-hyuk form detective duo for OCN’s Tunnel