2016 has been quite a year for all of Hallyu especially when it comes to K-dramas. Every major Korean television company or studio experienced some amount of popularity that brought them major recognition. For the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), they have Descendants of the Sun and Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. The Seoul Broadcasting System has Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo and Doctors. And the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation had W and Shopping King Louis.
However, the one Korean television studio to really make an impact this year is the Total Variety Network (tvN). They started the year with the first successful K-drama of 2016, Reply 1988, and the most-loathed K-drama of the year so far, Cheese in the Trap. After those two, tvN released a string of popular K-dramas including the surprising Another Oh Hae Young and the currently airing The K2.
Sadly for tvN, their latest K-drama currently airing in South Korea right now is not doing so well. Entourage, a K-drama adaption of the popular American HBO series, made its debut and it is a flop. The domestic viewership ratings for the series was extremely low relative to the other series released by tvN, and they got even lower.
The K-drama adaptation of Entourage is the story about Cha Young Bin (Seo Kang Joon), a top and trending actor in the Korean movie and television industry. His entourage consists of Cha Joon (Lee Kwang Soo), an actor who is past his prime, Geo Book (Lee Dong Hwi), his happy-go-lucky friend, Lee Ho Jin (Park Jung Min), his best friend, and Kim Eun Gab (Cho Jin Woong), his manager. As the series progresses, it shows how Young Bin and his entourage navigate their way through show business while enjoying all the perks along the way.
The synopsis of the plot makes the K-drama adaptation of Entourage sound very interesting to watch, but apparently, it was not that interesting for South Koreans. The numbers do not like as the viewership ratings provided by AGB Nielsen Korea and TNmS Media Korea tell a debilitating story. Only providing nationwide viewership, the former recorded 2.264 percent while the latter recorded 2.8 percent for the first episode. To be fair, that is actually more than decent when it comes to debuting viewership for a series on a Korean pay channel. However, the second episode recorded 1.162 percent for the former and 1.5 percent for the latter, more than one percent drop for back-to-back episodes. That is not good.
The question is why the K-drama adaptation of Entourage is flopping among South Koreans? Discerning the situation, the biggest issue with Entourage is not the stellar cast, direction, or even production, but what it is in general. Domestic K-drama fans usually have a preferred taste for their K-dramas and most of time, they are light-hearted romantic comedies, something Entourage is not.
At times, other genres do well, but light-hearted romcoms generally dominate South Korea. Second to Last Love, Another Oh Hae Young, Jealousy Incarnate, Shopping King Louis, W, Fantastic, Ms. Temper and Nam Jung Gi, and Uncontrollably Fond are just some of the light-hearted romcoms that released this year. Even if we analyzed Descendants of the Sun and The K2, two K-dramas known for their excellent acting, plot, and direction, are usually followed for their relationships between Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) and Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) for the former and “K2” Kim Je Ha (Ji Chang Wook) and Go An Na (Yoona) for the latter.
What is surprising about the Entourage K-drama is that it didn’t get international viewership in the west. It would probably do well in the United States given the fact the American HBO series was one of the most popular HBO series in the United States too. Ergo, the American viewership would have offset the sad domestic Korean viewership. We do not know why the Entourage K-drama is not airing in the west, but two reasons come to mind and they are viewing rights were not even offered for sale or each episode was way too expensive to buy. Maybe tvN heard how Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo was the most popular K-drama in the Americas though it was one of the lower rated K-dramas in South Korea and thought they could bargain a high price with DramaFever or Viki. Too bad for tvN because neither prominent streaming site took the bait.
Japan and China are the only countries reported to have viewing rights to Entourage outside of South Korea. For China, each episode was sold at $580,000 for a total of $6.96 million, as reported by Korean news outlet Naver. tvN was able to sell at such a high amount thanks to Seo Kang Joon and Lee Kwang Soo’s popularity in China.
[Featured Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]