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JTBC takes lead in TV drama viewership battle in H1

“The World of the Married” poster (JTBC)
“The World of the Married” poster (JTBC)

On the South Korean small screen, cable channel JTBC had a large lead over other big names on the back of well-made, eye-catching drama series in the first half of 2020.

The romance thriller "The World of the Married," the South Korean adaptation of BBC's "Doctor Foster," was the biggest hit TV series during the period, with its viewership reaching as high as 28.4 percent.

It is the highest-ever rating by a drama on a non-terrestrial TV channel.

The 16-episode drama, which features the revenge of a dedicated wife, played by Kim Hee-ae, coupled with intense suspense and unpredictable storytelling, also won director Mo Wan-il the best TV director award at this year's Baeksang Arts Awards.

JTBC's "Itaewon Class," starring star actor Park Seo-joon, was the No. 2 drama of the first half with viewership of 16.5 percent, the seventh-highest viewership rating in cable television history.

In a bid to maintain the competitive edge in the second half of the year, the broadcaster has launched the mystery "Graceful Friend," portraying close friends who face a murder in their town, and the crime drama "The Good Detective," a battle between detectives who reveal the truth and cover it up.

On the other hand, tvN, a cable channel run by entertainment giant CJ ENM, suffered a worse-than-expected first-half performance, except for the romantic comedy "Crash Landing On You," which started its 16-episode run in December last year.

Its prime-time series including the romantic comedy "Oh My Baby," starring Jang Na-ra, and the romance drama "It's OK to Not Be OK," starring Kim Soo-hyun, failed to impress South Korean viewers.

"Oh My Baby," about a workaholic single woman, recorded 2.9 percent in viewership rating at best and quietly finished its 16th episode on July 2. Premiering on June 20, "It's OK," was one of the most anticipated TV series as Korean wave star Kim's return project after his two-year military duty. But its audience share has been hovering around 5 percent.

To break the stalemate, tvN has come up with a star-studded lineup for the second half.

Starring Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona, "Stranger 2," the sequel to the 2016 popular crime drama "Stranger," will air in August.

Heartthrob actor Park Bo-gum and "Parasite" star Park So-dam will star in tvN's romance "Record of Youth" in September, while Bae Suzi and Nam Joo-hyuk are cast for "Startup" slated for October.

Terrestrial broadcasters like KBS and MBC remain in the doldrums as their shows hardly created a buzz over the first six months.

KBS' thriller "Woman of 9.9 Billion" and MBC's office comedy "Kkondae Intern," also known as "Old School Intern," are the only two series that made their presence felt on the small screen.

SBS received better results than the two rivals, with its medical drama "Dr. Romantic 2" and legal drama "Hyena" marking double-digit viewership ratings.

But its blockbuster fantasy show "The King: Eternal Monarch," starring Lee Min-ho, was a complete flop in the first half.

KBS's romantic comedy "Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol," MBC's science-fiction series "SF8" and SBS' musical drama "Do You Like Brahms?" will be their weapons of choice for the second half. (Yonhap)
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