Networks do what it takes to get you watching

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Networks do what it takes to get you watching

What can you ask of a TV show other than high ratings? One program with high ratings sometimes creates the illusion that all of the networks are breezing through, though others might be suffering from lousy ratings or scathing critiques. For instance, when a ratings survey reported that 40 percent of a viewer sampling watch MBC’s “Daejanggeum” on Mondays and Tuesdays, producers of MBC’s other programs seemed relieved from ratings pressure.
All of Korea’s broadcast networks are busy trying to score higher ratings, often through wider publicity. The number of promotional appearances by the casts of new dramas on talk, variety and infotainment shows is too high to calculate.
Recently, these TV dramas have put out soundtracks and have even taken out TV commercials to promote themselves. The studios do not even shirk from opening their grounds to TV fans’ “field trips.” It’s just another way to plug their new shows.
On Nov. 5, more than 200 star-hungry TV fans flocked to KBS with camera phones and digital cameras in hand. Producers of the new KBS series “She’s the Best,” which was to debut five days later, had offered them a rare chance to meet their heroes and heroines.
The 200 lucky fans had competed amid a pool of 8,000 for the chance to witness their stars up close ― though not too personal ― to scream at a gazillion decibels and to snap their cameras until their fingers ached.
In Korea, where previews are the domain of entertainment reporters and the like, this public pre-show frenzy is quite rare. MBC initiated the trend in late July by inviting 500 viewers to a preview for “Damo.” Needless to say, MBC’s projected return far exceeded its outlay, thus paving the way for other TV show fan previews.
Opening the studio is another strategy for advertising a TV show. Even producers of successful shows aren’t afraid to bare all if it can ratchet up the ratings. MBC selected 107 hardcore fans of “Daejanggeum” for a face-to-face meeting between viewers and producer, actors and actresses. This type of close-up meeting remains the exception, so loads of fans hopped on the first train and bus they could from just about any place you can think of in Korea to take advantage of this offer.
Generally, TV soundtracks are released only after a show wins some degree of popularity and recognition, but even that trend is changing. SBS’s “Ttaeryeo” (Hit) took a preemptive strike by releasing a teaser video clip for the show’s title song on the Internet and TV, one month before it premiered.
The first day the series aired, the album for the show’s soundtrack had already hit the music store racks. The music video, which includes clips from the drama with lip-syncing actors, has already sold 55,000 copies and ranks No. 1 among all soundtrack albums. TV industry analysts say the album’s popularity has boosted the show’s ratings.
The power of television commercial tie-ins is also being harnessed to promote dramas. MBC’s “Joeun Saram” (Good Men) tacked on a Hyundai credit card commercial before and after the show. Apparently, the ad featured a scene from the drama, according to a subtitle bar that ran during the commercial. The end result? A win-win for the purveyor of plastic and the ratings-hungry TV station.


by Shin Ye-ri
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