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KBS Continues To Struggle With Ratings In 2015, With Few Exceptions

BY Adrienne Stanley | Oct 15, 2015 09:34 AM EDT


2015 has been a difficult year for KBS, as the network continues to deal with low-rated Korean dramas. While there have been exceptions like "Producer," "All About My Mom," "Who Are You: School 2015," and "Healer," programs such as "Blood" or "Orange Marmalade" were well-hyped but yielded underwhelming viewership.

On October 15, Sports Chosun published an article which analyzed the contrast between successful dramas at KBS versus those that have struggled to capture the attention of domestic audiences.

The report, which was likely prompted by the double-digit ratings of "The Merchant: Gaekju 2015," examined the factors that have led to some of the most talked about shows of the past year and those that have disappointed audiences. While viewers keep tuning in for Jang Hyuk in "The Merchant: Gaekju 2015," star-power has not driven every program on KBS, in 2015.

Sports Chosun cited "The King's Face," another period series, which did not break double-digit viewership. "The King's Face" was highly-anticipated due to the casting of Seo In Guk, but his fan base was not enough to support the series or his critically acclaimed KBS drama, "I Remember You," whose ratings failed to climb higher than 5.3 percent in nationwide viewership, according to data released by Nielsen Korea. 

Period dramas may seem like a niche genre, but KBS has also struggled with its teen series. "Who Are You: School 2015" continues to be one of the most popular teen dramas of the year, but its ratings could not surpass 8.2 percent. 

"Sassy, Go Go," which is arguably one of the most interesting takes on cheerleading to hit the airwaves years, has yet to generate high viewership. A Pink's Jung Eun Ji, who emerged from the "Reply" franchise like Seo In Guk, continues to deliver a strong performance in "Sassy, Go Go," but the ratings continue to be low. 

Sports Chosun went on to positively note KBS dramas that have exceeded the expectations of viewers and critics. "Healer" was one of the notable series of the past year, prompting its lead actor, Ji Chang Wook to become a breakout Hallyu star. "Healer" also led to additional opportunities for Park Min Young and demonstrated the desire for viewers to have programming that crosses boundaries, merging action with romantic-comedy. 

"Producer" was also a hit for the network, as Kim Soo Hyun, Gong Hyo Jin, Cha Tae Hyun and IU led the drama to maintain double-digit ratings throughout its run. 

For international K-Drama fans, who get their fix through legal subtitling companies like DramaFever and Viki or back-end streaming services, Nielsen Korea or TGM rating reports can seem off-putting. However, the numbers reflect the viewership patterns of domestic audiences, impacting the casting of stars like Joo Won who is nicknamed the prince of ratings versus other actors whose series have yielded more disappointing percentages. Hopefully, KBS will gain momentum with its drama programming, over the two months remaining in 2015. 

Adrienne Stanley is a contributing editor at KDramaStars. She is also a contributing music writer at KpopStarz, MTV Iggy and other publications. When she is not listening to "We Like 2 Party," she can be found on Twitter. (@retrogirladdy).  

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