Weekend Variety Show Ratings War: MBC “Infinity Challenge” Soars, MBC “I’m A Singer” Digs Itself A Deeper Hole

We’ve just gone through the first full weekend of 2012 and that means we’ve had our first full set of ratings for 2012 for the weekend variety shows. To be honest though, the first set of ratings of 2012 didn’t bring about too many surprises. The programs that have been on top in 2011 have continued their dominance into the first weekend of 2012, while the programs that have been suffering in 2011, continued to suffer.

Finally helped push the ratings to above 20%

So let’s first start with the big one. MBC “Infinity Challenge” aired the final part of their highly anticipated “I’m a Singer in my own right” special this weekend. “Infinity Challenge” ratings have been hovering around the high ten’s for the last several weeks but they needed something special to finally break into the 20’s ratings. “I’m A Singer In My Own Right” was that special something the show needed. The ratings for MBC “Infinity Challenge” for Jan 7 according to AGB Nielson was 20.6% (+2.4% compared to the previous week) nationally and 23.4% in the metropolitan area. It’s the first time in 3 years and 3 months that MBC “Infinity Challenge” has been able to break into the 20’s. The last time they had ratings in the 20’s was in 2008 during their “Sorry I couldn’t protect you” special, which got ratings of 20.1%.

SBS “Star King” have been unable to compete since Kang Ho Dong’s retirement

Now just saying that MBC “Infinity Challenge” got 20.6% doesn’t really explain the significance of this achievement, so let’s do some comparisons with other programs. We will first start with the other Saturday programs. MBC “Infinity Challenge’s” two timeslot competitors, SBS “Star King” and KBS “Immortal Song 2” got 11.9% and 7.9% respectively. The only other program worth discussing on Saturday is MBC “World Changing Quiz,” which got ratings of 14.9%. It destroyed its timeslot competitor KBS “Invincible Youth Season 2,” which has continued its disappointing ratings run with 5.1%, its 3rd consecutive ratings drop (Going from 5.7% to 5.4% to this week’s 5.1%). It’s safe to say that MBC “Infinity Challenge” has no peers on Saturday.

So let’s compare this rating with the Sunday programs. KBS “Happy Sunday,” comprising of “1 Night, 2 Days” and “Qualifying Men” got a combined rating of 20.5%, while SBS “Good Sunday,” comprising of “Running Man” and “K-Pop Stars” got a combined rating of 13.6%. MBC “Sunday Night – I’m A Singer” got a measly 10.1% (Don’t worry we’ll go over the individual ratings for each Sunday program a bit later in the article).

Still retains its title of highest rating program currently on TV

This means that “Infinity Challenge” was the 4th highest overall rating program for the week of Jan 2 to Jan 8. The only programs that rated higher during that week was KBS Drama “Ojakgyo Brothers (30.4%),” KBS Variety Show “Gag Concert (23.8%)” and KBS Drama “Just You (23%).” This successful ratings milestone, along with the fact that the songs from the “I’m a Singer in my own right” special is currently dominating the digital music charts, is testament to the continuing success of the show and a great way to start 2012.

The highest overall rating Variety Show for the last few weeks

Now let’s move to the Sunday programs, and in this timeslot, it’s been pretty much the same. KBS “Gag Concert” continues to dominate the Sunday time slot for variety shows with a rating of 23.8%. The program has been on a real success streak during the 2nd half of 2011 and that success seems to have continued into 2012. It has dropped 1.9% compared to the previous week but the ratings for January 1 were especially high due to several factors (It was New Year’s Day and most people tend to be at home). Most other Sunday programs have also seen similar drops, with KBS “1 Night, 2 Days” being the only Sunday program that has seen a positive gain (+0.2%). We briefly talked about the ratings for the 3 other major Sunday programs but we should also discuss the ratings for the individual programs as well (Despite the fact that KBS and SBS still choose to combine their ratings into one rating for their overall umbrella program of KBS “Happy Sunday” and SBS “Good Sunday.”)

Continued it’s high rating run with the “Running Man Killer” special

SBS “Running Man” started 2012 on a high note by breaking into the 20’s for the first time in its history (Albeit only for Metropolitan ratings (21.7%) and not for national ratings (19.2%). Unfortunately the program has been unable to maintain that high rating for the 1st full weekend, dropping down to 18.6% nationally. It’s still a decently high rating and it looks like “Running Man” will continue their good streak of ratings for at least some time. KBS “1 Night, 2 Days” is still the highest rating individual variety show, with ratings of 28.9%. “1 Night, 2 Days” has maintained its high rating for several weeks now with their “Best Friends” special continuing that legacy into the first full weekend of 2012. With the show now just weeks away from meeting its unfortunate demise, it will be interesting to see if the show will break through to the 30’s before its end.

MBC’s underperforming Sunday lineup

The biggest disappointment of the Sunday time slot is indeed MBC’s “Sunday Night” programs comprising of “I am a Singer” and “Lululala” which got ratings of 10.1% and 3.1% respectively. The introducing of Shim Hyo Beom and Tei has done nothing to help stop the collapse of “I am a Singer,” which has seen its ratings almost halved from its heydays and looks even more pitiful compared to its time slot competitor KBS “1 Night, 2 Days (28.9%).” It doesn’t look much better even when compared to its new rookie competitor SBS “K-Pop Star (9.6%).” Its sister program “Lululala” has also failed to make any major impact with its pitiful single digit rating, trailing behind its timeslot competitors, KBS “Qualifying Men (13.2%)” and SBS “Running Man (18.6%).

How will KBS cope after this program ends?

It will be interesting to see if “Infinity Challenge” is able to maintain its 20’s rating for next week. The fact that this week was the last episode of a highly anticipated special would have most likely caused the ratings to spike a bit, so most likely we will see the program’s ratings move down a bit to its most usual stable rating of around 16% ~ 18%. It doesn’t look its competitors will offer any sort of reasonable competition for the immediate future and it will be interesting to see how SBS and KBS responds to MBC “Infinity Challenge’s” continued dominance of Saturday.

Sunday is a bit more complicated. KBS and SBS have continued their dominance of Sunday, with KBS definitely having the bigger share of the success pie with KBS “Gag Concert” and KBS “Happy Sunday – 1 Night, 2 Days,” and SBS following closely behind with SBS “Good Sunday – Running Man.” The biggest worry is MBC’s set of Sunday programs. We can expect the ratings for “I’m A Singer” to drop even further next week, since it’s a midpoint inspection with no performances. Its sister program “Lululala” is also struggling and there are rumours that the original producer of “I’m A Singer,” Kim Yong Hee PD, is already deep in preparations for a successor program. MBC may be doing extremely well on Saturdays but it really needs to pick up its game on the much more important and profitable Sunday timeslots.

So what do you think MBC should do about their Sunday Programs and what kind of approach should SBS and KBS take to increase their competitiveness on Saturday? Sound away in the comments section.

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