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Drama viewership ratings for the week of Aug. 5-11, 2019

Woohoo, new dramas! Then again, woohoo, less time to sleep… We had two of these dramas premiere Monday — mystery rom-com Let Me Hear Your Song and fantasy rom-com Welcome 2 Life. The former had a bit of a rocky start with ratings, which doesn’t really surprise me; I’d heard that the drama was all over the place tonally. The latter Welcome 2 Life performed a little better, reeling in 6.3 percent.

The third and final premiere this week was for slice-of-life drama Be Melodramatic. The show focuses on three female best friends, naturally giving off strong Age of Youth vibes. And like Age of Youth, the ratings started out pretty low, with Saturday’s episode only garnering 1.0 percent. It looks like viewers are still gravitating towards the big genre shows such as Doctor John, Watcher, and Hotel del Luna.

Drama viewership ratings for the week of Aug. 5-11, 2019

Ep. # Station Rating
Monday, Aug. 5
Let Me Hear Your Song 1 KBS 2.7%
Let Me Hear Your Song 2 KBS 3.3%
Welcome 2 Life 1 MBC 4.5%
Welcome 2 Life 2 MBC 6.3%
A Moment at Eighteen 5 JTBC 3.3%
Designated Survivor: 60 Days 11 tvN 4.5%
Tuesday, Aug. 6
Let Me Hear Your Song 3 KBS 2.8%
Let Me Hear Your Song 4 KBS 4.0%
Welcome 2 Life 3 MBC 5.3%
Welcome 2 Life 4 MBC 6.8%
A Moment at Eighteen 6 JTBC 3.5%
Designated Survivor: 60 Days 12 tvN 4.8%
Wednesday, Aug. 7
Justice 13 KBS 4.2%
Justice 14 KBS 5.1%
Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung 13 MBC 5.1%
Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung 14 MBC 6.8%
Doctor Detective 7 SBS 4.8%
Class of Lies 7 OCN 3.0%
When the Devil Calls Your Name 3 tvN 2.5%
Thursday, Aug. 8
Justice 15 KBS 4.3%
Justice 16 KBS 5.0%
Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung 15 MBC 4.7%
Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung 16 MBC 6.4%
Doctor Detective 7 SBS 4.0%
Class of Lies 7 OCN 3.6%
When the Devil Calls Your Name 4 tvN 2.2%
Friday, Aug. 9
Doctor John 13 SBS 7.9%
Doctor John 14 SBS 10.3%
Be Melodramatic 1 JTBC 1.8%
Saturday, Aug. 10
Mother of Mine 81 KBS 21.8%
Mother of Mine 82 KBS 27.7%
Golden Garden 13 MBC 5.6%
Golden Garden 14 MBC 8.2%
Golden Garden 15 MBC 7.0%
Golden Garden 16 MBC 7.6%
Doctor John 15 SBS 7.3%
Doctor John 16 SBS 10.1%
Be Melodramatic 2 JTBC 1.0%
Watcher 11 OCN 3.5%
Hotel del Luna 9 tvN 8.3%
Sunday, Aug. 11
Mother of Mine 83 KBS 26.9%
Mother of Mine 84 KBS 31.7%
Watcher 12 OCN 6.1%
Hotel del Luna 10 tvN 10.0%

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There's no real standout in terms of ratings lately. The highest ratings (excluding KBS weekender) are also Fri-Sun dramas: Dr John and Hotel De Luna. Dr John finally broke double digits.

Maybe the ratings will pickup towards the end of the year as winter arrive and people stay at home more. Heh

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Would not blame the season or month for poor ratings. Recently dramas have had mediocre content which is also why the kdrama hallyu wave has ended. There hasn't been any drama that has become a pan asia phenomenon since goblin. Channels are shutting down time slots because of amassing massive debts since they can't sell dramas at high prices anymore even with popular actors.

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Pan Asia phenomenon is rare though. It happens maybe once or twice in a decade. how many k-drama has been pan Asia phenomenon since winter sonata? Less than 10 dramas in 15 years.

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That isn't true BoF, YAB, Coffee Prince, Sam Soon, Goong, Gumiho, My Girl, Secret Garden, Hiers, DOTS, Goblin, Iris, AIMH, Full House, Pinocchio, MLFAS, WLFKBJ and many many more have seen huge success across Asia. It was never a rare phenomenon but now it has become one.

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Although I know a lot of these dramas were extremely popular, I wouldn't exactly call most of them quality content.

I think a Pan Asian phenomenon is rare these days for a variety of reasons.

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I won't debate about whether they were quality content because they are reasons I started watching korean dramas to begin with and the reason why sites like drama beans came into existence. I will however stand by my argument that korean dramas need to go back to their roots if hallyu and stand out ratings are ever to return. I still prefer watching Sam soon and coffee prince to any of these new age dramas because none of them have the right feels.

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DOTS, Goblin, WLFKBJ, and MLFAS, are all modern of the ones you listed so they're not really part of the wave of the other dramas you're talking about. They all came out within the last 5 years. During the height of the wave you mean which was around mid 2000s to early 2010's there was, pretty reliably, about 1 breakout popular dramas that came out a year (on average there were years missing one and years with 2 or so). When something popped it blew and everyone knew about it (because what else is there besides sports and news) and everything was a must see and you'd see crazy ratings and sale rates for shows. We can all agree kdramaland is not at that point with it's *trendy* weekday dramas and never will be again. The long running weekend dramas like Father is Strange still do crazy numbers when they're popular and retain that energy for that audience. But those don't get sold as much and never did.

This isn't because of some quality thing though it's just how tv is now and that breakdown of about 1 a year is still true now.

SKY Castle was coming out this year and was insanely popular. Mr. Sunshine came out last year and was an extreme success and saw about the same ratings as Goblin did the year before that. They got referenced in other shows, variety shows, etc. The usual stuff. It's just that even when it's a hit like those were it will never be a hit in the way something like Moon Embraces the Sun was or something. And the stations don't understand that and throw money at the wall hoping for that past success. A hit is 20% now not 40%-50% like it used to be. Because the way people consume media has changed, not what they like just how they take it in. And that changes how shows enter popular culture worldwide. The sources of korean dramas digitally has shifted rather abruptly lately as well with the loss of Dramafever and Netflix only just now figuring out they need to live release shows and that doesn't help traction with the way people watch tv now.

The wave is still going, as much as it can be in a new tv show age. Not as many people watch tv live anymore unless there's an event show, a watercooler show. This is the case across countries wide in the age of more entertainment online. So even when there is a popular show it'll never be half the whole nation anymore like it was for something like moon embracing the sun. A lot of the market just isn't going to gather like that anymore. 50% isn't going to happen. China has it's own growing and robust drama landscape now so even when something pops it won't consume everything like it used to. Same with other countries. So selling will be harder and they need to adjust their prices. There's tons of online content from all over and people arent restricted to whats being shown on tv anymore. The world is just different now and the tv stations are still trying to throw money at the wall to replicate those numbers and success. They need to adjust.

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Highly popular show is not the same with pan asian phenomenon. Pan asian phenomenon brings cultural impact, most of the shows you listed did not. Taiwanese Meteor Garden (2001) was a pan asian phenomenon. Winter Sonata was a pan asian phenomenon. Oshin (NHK, 1983) was a pan asian phenomenon. Jin Yong's novels were pan asian phenomenon (since 1950s yo...). Girls Generation (SNSD) was a pan asian phenomenon. I don't know if your definition of pan asian phenomenon is too broad or you think too highly of Korean drama.

Don't throw the word 'pan asian phenomenon' so easily like that.

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Just as in the U.S., Korean TV is fragmenting because viewers have more choices of content than just TV and cable channels. Broadcasters are losing most of their advertising to YouTube, Google, FB because of targeting marketing is more effective. Viewers now have options to spend hours playing on-line battle games or spending too much time on social media. Traditional TV shows do not seem to fit the tastes of many digital lifestyle users.

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I'd add DAE JANG GEUM to the Pan Asian Phenomenon and outside of Asia.

China was the biggest market for hallyu until the ban in 2016. I think THAAD basically killed that generation of hallyu wave. It not the same anymore.

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Exactly, there are plenty of good dramas this year, it's not a content quality problem, but local competition catching up in production quality and rise in online watching platform like Netflix.

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Which local competition is catching up? I didn't get your point. Are you talking about cable dramas catching up to public dramas? That argument isn't true either because apart from HDL cable hasn't had any major breakout dramas recently. Sky Castle did well in ratings but it never became popular outside of korea. Content quality is the issue because to become a hallyu drama you need a je ne c'est pas quality that korean dramas used to have but don't anymore. Now all they do is remakes or sequels. Even dramas like www that get appreciation don't perform well or become phenomenal. People like and compliment it but aren't crazy obsessed with it like BOF which continues to be a gateway drama till date.

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Netflix isn't mainstream in korea yet despite what you might believe. They don't even have 2 million subscribers in the country. Online streaming platforms have existed in korea for many years and naver TV has been creating web dramas since 2014 but the target audience for web dramas is only teenagers and maybe some college students. There are many people who still watch TV and if you follow the ratings for variety shows you can see that those genre of shows are still pulling in good ratings. Dramas are the only category apart from music shows that are doing very poorly.

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@kitty You’re losing me. So are you talking about Korea ratings or Asia/Global hallyu phenomenon? You keep jumping back and forth.

First of all, I think there is far better selection of dramas now to appeal the taste of viewers and overall more people are watching, just not the same shows, and not on a physical tv. The new growing selection is eating up the past market dominators so they must cut back. The new players are expanding. OCN having a steady pipeline of drama is new. JTBC and TvN adding drama time slots over the past few years. And that’s excluding their piggyback channels that rerun their own dramas. Cable subscription has become the norm after Reply 1988. And like anywhere with cable, it usually comes packaged, so the subscribers that joined because of a hyped drama will benefit all cable networks.

Btw, stand out dramas like Sky Castle, Prison Playbook, Reply 1988, Avengers Club are produced every year. They won’t be received the same attention overseas because of lack of relatability. I haven’t seen half the dramas you listed because they didn’t appeal to me even during their “wave”.

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You might not have seen most of the hallyu dramas but they are large part of what keeps the drama sector afloat. I'm not understanding why you think the drama ratings have gone down due to more competition. MBC has changed its regular timeslot so it's dramas now air at 9 pm which means they don't compete in the same time slot as kbs and sbs anymore and only a part of tvn and jtbc is their overlap yet they are not pulling in high numbers and there was even an article about how this move did nothing for the channel as people continue to move away from drama watching. SBS also bought in variety shows because according to them the consumption patterns of viewers have changed and more people now prefer to watch variety shows rather than dramas. All three public channels claim that content quality is a problem and they are trying to find a way to fix it. They themselves acknowledge it as the reason for falling ratings. My point about the hallyu drama is that a consequence of falling ratings due to poor content has lead to the loss of hallyu dramas which would be a Pan Asian phenomenon. Those dramas are the reason why actors like LMH, LJS etc have large fandoms and remain unshakeable as top earners. These days the term hallyu actors is also disappearing as there are no more hallyu dramas. I didn't mean for my argument to go back and forth but my breakdown is poor content leads to poor ratings this is one consequence. The other is poor content leads to lack of popularity despite popular actors which means no Pan Asian drama as was common. Both streams lead to inability to sell dramas at high prices which leads to debt which is causing channels to suspend timeslots. I hope this is makes more sense.

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But...it is true, most high rated dramas (goblin included) aired during winter. This based on ratings in Korea. The acceptance/ratings/buzz of k-dramas outside of Korea is another story.

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I'm not saying high rated dramas don't air in winter I'm saying that the season is a mere coincidence. Yongpal, Heirs, Bridal Mask and Mr Sunshine all aired in summer but they have high ratings. Even just last year familiar wife and 100 days had high ratings but they aired in summer. It is content that drives ratings seasons are not greatly detrimental to ratings.

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@kitty
Just so you don't feel too lonely in this discussion, I'm with you on this.

Sadly for us viewers, the KDrama funding (and political) model that generated the hallyu wave no longer exists. It is like inertia from its good times has stopped the industry finding a its footing in this new environment (a part from rare exceptions).

I commented a while ago that in heady hallyu days, scripts often outperformed the actors' ability, now its the other way round - stories have trouble filling their 16ep. Heck we used to get 18, 20 and 24 ep dramas that would run hard to the end.

It has been clear for a while that we are watching the slow but steady reverting of Kdrama back into the pack. It's not only evident in the ratings where single digits are now the norm. Look at the comment numbers on DB - how many 200+ or more comments sections are there now. Even DB and GF have stated that they needed to pull back as it was no longer profitable - It's all clicks and engagement and the community is evaporating. This is just another marker of the overall standard.

What I find fascinating is that in amongst this overall gradual decline, KDrama has produced some of its best TV. For years, my list of favourites remained fairly constant, but in the last 3 years the top positions are all new dramas. At its best, KDrama has projected its skill to dizzying heights and these drama's are worthy successors of KDrama's very best traditions. The only issue is this is occurring in an industry where the mean is getting lower and lower.

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But it is normal occurrence when it comes to trends, and it has nothing to do with the product quality. Korean dramas had good run, amassed core fanbase, that will seek and check new offerings but they are no longer "the trend", because no trend last forever. Plus nothing exist in the void and in last decade, the way tv shows are produces and consumed changed a lot worldwide and not only Korea is affected by diminishing live watching ratings.

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@shach
Ratings can be seen as a byproduct of policy settings and economic fundamentals. The Korean dramas that were part of the Hallyu wave were really just an explicit and direct outcome of President Kim Dae-Jung's post Asian Financial Crisis policies.

These deliberately created a radical change to, and massive investment in, K popular culture as both a means to earn export income and soft power following the IMF "loans".

That political focus and the funding model is no longer in place as it once was. The more recent China reaction to curtail K entertainment as a financial export has hit budgets and profitability.

Most people don't see how policy and planning actually set the foundations for what we see as popular culture. One of the best unpacking of this is the documentary "Not Quite Art" (Series One)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30dw9Y-kvJ4.

There are also a number of articles on how President Kim Dae-Jung's response to the AFC generated the Hallyu and Kpop juggernaut...it's eye opening stuff and well worth a read.

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@SadKDramaLama, exactly, that's not the problem of quality content, I would argue that now Korean screenwriters are more experimenting with genres and characters, and there are still money in industry to try different things, in few years the model will change again, and observing American market, public channels probably cut their drama making and cable channels will take the lead almost entirely.

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@shach
Apologies, we appear to have been talking at cross purposes. :D

I miss-interpreted your post as I guess I was phrasing my point from one perspective and you were coming at it from the opposite.

I so agree with you, this change has opened up the opportunities for interesting experimentation. There are a handful of dramas that are re-writing the roadmap for how to do small drama with big impact in the new environment.

I had taken @kitty point as: the issue of the decreasing general mean standard not the leading edge. It was that breadth that generated the ratings and these online communities (like DB and the dearly missed Thundie's Prattle).

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You're pretty much agreeing with us lol. Just talking about it from different angles. It's a new environment, new landscape, and they have to find their footing in it! This has been a good discussion ^^

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I hope Melo Suits Me's ratings will rise! It is such a gem and a gem deserves better ratings!

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Is it possible to get popularity charts as well? Ratings haven't been standout in awhile but popularity charts are good indicators of what shows and stars have caught viewer attention.

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Be Melodramatic is giving me Age of Youth vibes too! I hope it gains more audience as the show goes on...

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I think it can have lower ratings but high online views, similar to WWW.

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Oh, I hope so too! Now I remember Age of Youth didn't have groundbreaking ratings but they gave it another season.

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Jumping for joy Hotel del Luna hit 10%!! I hope it can beat The Crowned Clown's 10.851%.

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I expect it to close around 12 percent.

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Knetz are screaming that the story isn’t focusing on the otp. I think once they do that, the ratings can jump a few more.

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Unlike Knetz, I'm not really into the ManChan couple, but I can finally see their chemistry.

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So called chemistry really depends on the storyline. The first half of the drama had too much interruptions.

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For me, it's impossible to ship Chan-sung when a whole Chung-myung exists.

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There’s more episodes for improvement 😅

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Frankly I am surprised that When the Devil Calls Your Name isn't doing better in the ratings given the cast. Even if people decide that they don't like the story, they will usually turn up for popular actors

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I’m actually not surprised because even Life On Mars didn’t make a splash. JKH oddly doesn’t do well in ratings. I don’t know why. They know he’s good.🤷🏻‍♀️

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Congratulations to WATCHER for the 6.1% rating for episode 12.
That may be the highest episode rating for a OCN drama in 2019.

I took a quick (so unscientific) scan of 2019 OCN dramas as listed at KoreanDrama.org and the closest to WATCHER’s 6.1% that I can find is VOICE 3’s 5.5% for episode 16.

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Very happy for Han Seok-kyu and the rest of the cast. I'm still trying to catch up and I like what I've seen so far.

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Happy for Watcher. That’s a high episode rating for an OCN drama in any year. I think only Tunnel and Voice 2 have had higher.

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Good memory. I took a look. TUNNEL’s highest AGB rating was 6.49% for episode 16. VOICE 2’s highest AGB rating was 7.086% for episode 12.
Personally speaking I think those ratings are reachable for WATCHER.

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Good to see Rookie Historian doing well in its time slot. So many shows competing with it, including When the Devil Calls Your Name. I’m also glad Hotel del Luna is garnering some audience. But I’m most surprised about Let me hear your song, myself. I’m surprised how much I like it after the first 3 episodes. Maybe others will too!

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Doctor John seems to be doing quite well although I’m not sure if Ji Sung should be drawing even better numbers...? But at least they broke double digits.

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I decided to binge watch Dr. John. Lost my sleeping hours for the whole 6 eps. Started with excitement and now it's just hmmm.... now after the 8th ep.... I don't know why but something is just off. Something is missing. At the beginning it felt like a younger version of Teacher Kim. Then I started to get annoyed with the close up scenes. I even get irrirated with the nurse who is determined to ruin Dr. John, and majority of his students' antics. Thankfully I switched to Designated Survivors. That is a really good remake so far. Very intriguing and all in good pace. My no. 1 show for now. As for JKH, after Prison Playbook, recently, I decided to watch him in Life on Mars. Towards the end, I am not sure if I will be able to pick up any of his other dramas solely because he will be playing. I may have to shelve the current one. I am gonna start Watcher. Han Suk Gyu 💖

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I haven’t watched 7 and 8 yet so I can’t comment, but that nurse has been annoying IMHO since long ago. I’m just glad I haven’t seen much of her so far. I still am liking Ji Sung and I like the bromance brewing between him and Hwang Hee.

But I agree with you that Han Suk Guk is ❤️ But I have no time to watch anything new.

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Jisung has always deliver. I think the plots are really ignoring other roles, and getting all over the places now.

Agree with you on time issue. I will be starting revision soon, so kdrama may be postponed for binge-watching :(

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Binge watching is good once in a while to just shut out the rest of the world. 😝 It helps me regain some sanity when the real world gets too insane!. I haven’t binged in too long and I really hope I can do so soon. Some dramas are best experienced when binged!

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I agree, this week episodes had very melodramatic plot and too many "meaningful" long shots.

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