Why do KBS weekend dramas and makjang dramas see a decline in ratings?

Is viewership still meaningful as an indicator? In the current era of multimedia, viewership alone cannot fully gauge the success of content

Therefore, new indicators such as topicality index and viewing time are emerging, reflecting the changing landscape.

However, viewership continues to be reported because it holds significance for certain platforms. Terrestrial, cable and satellite channels still consider viewership important. Yet, ratings for recent weekend dramas present a different picture.

ji hyun woo

The most notable change is the decline of KBS weekend dramas. “Beauty and Mr. Romantic”, which started last March, recorded a peak rating of 17.6% (Nielsen Korea), which, considering the overall decline in terrestrial viewership, may not seem low, but when compared to previous KBS weekend dramas like “My Only One” (2018) with a peak rating of 49.4% and “Young Lady and Gentleman” (2021) with a peak rating of 38.2%, it reflects the ongoing decline of KBS weekend dramas.

In fact, the previous work “Live Your Own Life” only managed to reach a peak rating of 22.1%. This downward trend has continued from “It’s Beautiful Now” (highest rating: 29.4%), “Three Bold Siblings” (28%) and “The Real Has Come!” (23.9%) until today. Essentially, casting writer Kim Sa-kyung and actor Ji Hyun-woo for “Beauty and Mr. Romantic” is an attempt to reverse this trend.

However, these efforts haven’t yielded much effect. Despite being marketed as a romantic drama about a top actress who falls to rock bottom overnight and a novice drama producer who falls in love with her and brings her back up again, “Beauty and Mr. Romantic” has not performed well in terms of ratings or topicality.

The result? The rating of 17.2% in the second episode dropped to 14.9% in the third episode. Why? Because they continued to manipulate a code that had lost its appeal due to overuse.

The Escape of The Seven

On the other hand, the downfall of famous writer Kim Soon-ok’s works is another recent development in the landscape of weekend dramas. Writer Kim Soon-ok, known for the “Penthouse” series, which recorded a peak rating of 29.2%, saw her latest work “The Escape of the Seven” on SBS only achieve a rating of 7.7%, despite a production cost of 46 billion won. Its sequel “The Resurrection of the Seven” is currently struggling with ratings in the 2% range.

The reason? As viewers pointed out since “The Escape of the Seven”, there has been a serious lack of coherence in the storyline. Absurd settings failed to create dramatic tension but instead elicited forced laughter. “The Escape of the Seven” was supposed to pave the way for its sequel, but its failure led to a loss of interest from viewers.

The decline of KBS weekend dramas, once considered a guarantee of viewership, and the downfall of makjang (something that is so bad that it couldn’t get any worse) dramas signify something. The answer lies in the recent success of tvN’s weekend drama “Queen of Tears“. With a current peak rating of over 20%, it stands out as a dominant work in terms of topicality. Moreover, it has garnered attention both domestically and internationally, appealing to traditional and modern indicators alike.

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Upon closer examination, “Queen of Tears” shares a narrative structure similar to the family dramas often seen on KBS weekend dramas. However, the execution of “Queen of Tears” is fundamentally different from both KBS weekend dramas and writer Kim Soon-ok’s makjang dramas. While it brings clichés, it subverts them to evoke contemporary empathy, unlike the outdated and regressive worlds depicted in KBS weekend dramas. Although it introduces dramatic setups that put families in crisis, the process of unraveling them offers a stark contrast to writer Kim Soon-ok’s nonsensical and provocative makjang dramas. Most importantly, the black comedy depicted through various situations enriches the drama like a well-prepared table.

Even traditional viewers’ tastes evolve with changing times. Even the older demographics of KBS weekend dramas don’t want to watch outdated dramas. Similarly, while stimulation is not necessarily a bad thing, demands for substantial coherence and completeness have increased. As we consume more content, our standards rise. The era where makjang dramas and weekend dramas were viewed as ratings guarantees has passed. It’s better not to force-feed viewers with the same old clichés or hastily prepared meals.

Source: daum

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