KBS Weekday and Weekend Dramas on the Rise Versus SBS and MBC

"It's either hit or miss"


In the first half of this year, the light and shade of groundwave dramas were clearly mixed. Either they hit the jackpot or miss terribly.

KBS, MBC and SBS have attracted viewers with various genres of dramas, including melodramas, historical dramas, human and family dramas. In addition to groundwave broadcasting, viewers choose to watch dramas aired on OTT platforms other than Netflix, Kakao TV, and Naver TV. As the viewing options have expanded in addition to TV, the report cards of terrestrial dramas this year have been divided into extremes.

◆ KBS daily drama – weekend drama on the rise

In the first half of 2021, daily and weekend KBS dramas were strong. Monday-Tuesday dramas began to decline, and Wednesday-Thursday dramas ended the first half of the year without a major rebound.

First of all, KBS 1TV and 2TV's daily dramas drew steady attention from viewers with ratings of late 10%. KBS 1TV's "Be My Dream Family" tells the story of two families of different cultures meeting through the remarriage of their parents to become one family. It is a typical KBS touching family drama that foretells a heartwarming ending after a quarrel, reconciliation and loving process. On the other hand, KBS 2TV's "Miss Monte-Cristo" is receiving steady attention from viewers for its so-called 'makjang' code, including revenge and passion. Thanks to Choi Yeo-jin and Kim Kyung-sook, as well as Lee So-yeon's performance in the drama, it recorded 17.6% on May 20th.

The KBS weekend drama "Revolutionary Sisters", a sequel to "Homemade Love Story" drew attention as writer Moon Yeong-nam's weekend drama. Reflecting the COVID-19 era at the beginning of the drama, the main characters' various lives continue to be popular by giving fun to viewers. The eighteenth episode (May 16th) since its first airing on March 13th, rated 31.8%. Although viewership has slowed down since then, it has continued to record 30% of viewership and is on the rise. Moon Yeong-nam's unique reversal of the drama is drawing interest as it goes beyond the middle of the play, drawing expectations for an increase in viewership.

The final episode of the "Royal Secret Agent" which ended in February, ended with 14.0%. Next, "River Where the Moon Rises" fired a signal of the revival of KBS' Monday-Tuesday drama as the fourth episode recorded 10% viewership. But "River Where the Moon Rises" had to go through a replacement. Ji Soo who played On-dal, the main character, became controversial after raising suspicions of school violence. Due to the controversy, Ji Soo dropped out and Na In-woo was substituted. Re-shooting and editing prevented the cancellation, but unlike originally planned, the drama's flow has changed in part. Although the ratings were expected to rebound, the fourth episode eventually became its highest ratings. Viewership for the final episode was 8.3%.

Monday-Tuesday drama is "Youth of May". Starring Lee Do-hyun and Go Min-si, the drama is a retro human melodrama set in Gwangju in May 1980. In the eighth episode, viewership reached 5.7%. Although it missed double-digit ratings, it ended in positive reviews as it created some enthusiastic viewers. The figure is low compared to the ratings of the previous works, but it ended without much controversy.

The sequel to "Youth of May", "At a Distance, Spring is Green" is a campus drama with a large number of new actors besides Park Jihoon, Kang Min-ah and Bae In-hyuk. The viewership of the first episode, out of fourteen episodes was 2.6% (the second part of the twelfth episode), about half of the 5.6% rating of the last episode of "Youth of May". The second episode recorded 1.8% of the first episode, recording the lowest ratings of KBS' Monday-Tuesday drama in the first half of 2021. The good defense collapsed without hesitation, raising concerns that it may have been the starting point for the decline in KBS' Monday-Tuesday drama.

Contrary to expectations, KBS' Wednesday-Thursday drama has been in a slump in viewership. The first episode of "Hello, Me!" aired on February 17th, didn't get out of the 5% range until the end of April 8th. The sequel "Sell Your Haunted House" recorded 6.9% in viewership in the second half of the twelfth episode, raising expectations for a rebound in viewership in the second half after its first broadcast on April 14th, but unfortunately, it ended with 5.5% (episode 16, part 2). KBS Wednesday-Thursday dramas failed to induce a reversal in ratings due to overlapping parts of the broadcasting time with TV CHOSUN entertainment shows "PPONG School" and " Call Center of Love".

KBS' Friday drama was sluggish. "Dear.M" was scheduled to open the KBS Friday drama in 2021. However, controversy over Park Hye-soo's alleged school violence continued, and KBS eventually postponed its first broadcast scheduled for February 26th. As a result, "Imitation" filled the vacancy of "Dear.M" and first aired on May 7th. The ratings were 'bitter' itself. The seventh episode, which aired on the 18th, recorded 0.6% (part 2), indicating that it was not receiving attention from viewers.

◆ SBS "The Penthouse" and "Taxi Driver" a success... Controversial "Joseon Exorcist" ends prematurely

SBS succeeded with "The Penthouse" series.

Season 1 of the Monday-Tuesday drama "The Penthouse" ended on January 5th. Season 2 was then organized as a Friday-Saturday drama from February 19th to April 2nd and met with viewers. "The Penthouse 2" continued its popularity in the previous season with its own highest viewer rating of 29.2% (on air on March 27th). "The Penthouse 3", which was first broadcasted on Friday 4th, recorded 19.5% of viewership (based on part 2, 16.1% and part 3, 19.1%). Kim Soon-ok's unconventional development captivated viewers again this time. However, the recent controversy over racial discrimination has led to controversy over the violence of the previous season and the possibility of excessive reversals. Despite the controversy, it has become a popular drama that has received constant attention from viewers.

"Taxi Driver" followed the "The Penthouse 2" on Friday-Saturday schedule. The drama starring Lee Je-hoon, Esom, Kim Eui-sung and Pyo Ye-jin was loved by viewers as a 'private revenge proxy drama that completes revenge on behalf of the victims'. Lee Naeun, a member of girl group April, who was cast before the show, was replaced by Pyo Ye-jin due to controversy over school violence. It overcame bad news and succeeded in capturing ratings and popularity. It drew attention every time by dealing with social problems such as school violence, workplace bullying, and voice phishing as issues per episode.

SBS was also one of the most controversial terrestrial dramas in the first half of 2021. It is the Monday-Tuesday drama "Joseon Exorcist". It first aired on March 22nd, recording 8.9% (part 2). However, after the first episode, controversy over the distortion of history arose due to controversy over props and disparagement of figures, which was abolished after the second episode of the show. In the drama, props such as Chinese food and moon cakes, Chinese dumplings, scenes of King Taejong's slaughter of the people, the scene of Prince Chungnyeong pouring alcohol to a Catholic priest, and criticism of General Choi Yeong, who was considered a loyalist, were subject to controversy. In China, there is a Northeastern Project which claimed various Korean cultures, including kimchi and the hanbok, belonged to China, and the backlash from viewers reached its peak. Controversy continued even after SBS' explanation and was eventually abolished. The ending of the exorcism drama set in the early Joseon Dynasty became a 'shame' from the beginning to its end.

The Monday-Tuesday drama "Racket Boys" which began broadcasting on May 31st, ranked first in groundwave Monday-Tuesday drama ratings, with viewership rising to 6.2% in the fifth episode. The growth drama of sixteen boys and girls also sparked controversy over alleged racism. SBS apologized for this. Attention is focusing on how the controversy that erupted at the beginning of the drama will affect broadcasting in the future. It remains to be seen whether it will be a jackpot or a miss.

◆ MBC fails miserably in the first half of 2021-06-22

MBC's drama situation in the first half of 2021 was a crushing defeat. There was passionate performances by the actors, but viewers continued to turn a blind eye to the works. Wednesday-Thursday dramas which is considered MBC's signature, are not sure whether viewers will even be able to remember them.

The first Wednesday-Thursday drama aired on March 24th. "Oh My Ladylord" is a heart-to-heart romance between a man who 'doesn't' date and a woman who 'can't' date. Lee Min-ki and Nana starred in it. The main actors' comic and seriousness continued, but the viewers' interest was not high. The ratings for the first episode ended with 2.6% (part 2) and 1.6% (part 2) for the last episode (on May 13th). The 12th episode (April 29th) was a crushing defeat in ratings, with viewership of the first episode recording 0.9%.

Subsequently, the four-part drama "Here's My Plan" first aired on May 19th. It kept its ratings in the 2% range, and was higher than "Oh My Ladylord". The highest viewer rating was 2.8% (part two of episode one).

Amid the crushing defeat in Wednesday-Thursday drama ratings, the daily drama "A Good Supper" is barely saving face. After its first broadcast on Jan. 11th, it maintained its viewership in the 5-6% range and rose to 7.7% (102 episodes) on the 8th. In the competition of living information programs during the same time period.

Attention is focusing on whether MBC dramas will be loved by viewers in the second half of the year.

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