The Rise Of Cable In K-dramaland: A Couch Kimchi Roundtable

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Before long, MBC, SBS, and KBS will be sizing up the competition beyond each other. In recent years, cable channels have emerged as viable alternatives to the three major networks. What’s the formula to their success? Pull up a chair and join us as we talk about why we’re tuning into cable TV!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page 1

What made cable networks a go-to alternative for viewers?

Page 2

Cable vs. The Big 3

Page 3

Successful Big 3 dramas vs. the failed ones

Successful cable dramas vs. the failed ones

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The Big 3’s specialty vs. cable TV’s specialty

Public sentiment about the Big 3 & cable TV

Our sentiments about the Big 3 & cable TV

Page 5

Favorite cable dramas

Bad cable dramas

The future of cable: What we’d like to see

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WHAT MADE CABLE NETWORKS A GO-TO ALTERNATIVE FOR VIEWERS?

Leila: We have to blame tvN. 2012 was an amazing year for them. The Flower Boy” and “Answer Me” series were huge hits!

Goodange: I think you can go even further back than that. The first of the “Flower Boy” series, “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop,” aired on tvN in 2011, and it was pulling in around 2% in viewership ratings, which was considered high by cable standards. Before that, there was also tvN’s “I Need Romance,” and while I don’t know the kind of numbers it garnered, its 2nd and 3rd installments attest to its popularity. “I Need Romance” didn’t do anything revolutionary, but nevertheless, it offered more than what regular K-drama viewers were used to seeing—a lot of steamy skinship and modern South Korean women who were unabashed about their sexuality. “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop” and “I Need Romance” weren’t perfect shows, but their stories were solid and by K-drama standards, they were daring.

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Over the years since then, I think cable channels like tvN, OCN, and jTBC have proven that they can produce shows that aren’t just edgy but also have quality storylines. They gamble on dramas that don’t always carry the K-drama staples, and they seem to place more emphasis on narrative development than keeping up with the schedule of a live shoot. tvN, in particular, has accumulated a roster of impressive programs that includes must-watch variety shows like “Grandpas Over Flowers.” They’re making a conscious effort to appeal to a broad spectrum of demographics.

Rinchan: Because cable is more of a private establishment, they are not half as prone to censorship as the public broadcast systems like the Big 3. There is also a different quality to their dramas, which gives us a more interesting format. You don’t really see much risqué dramas, like “Secret Love Affair,” handled well like a cable network could. Cable TV is simply bolder.