JTBC’s current prime-time drama, A World of Married Couple, broke cable ratings records this weekend, ending the 15-month reign of Sky Castle, also by JTBC.
A World of Married Couple (aka The World of the Married) is based on BBC drama Doctor Foster.
The record has done more for scripted formats in Korea than any other adaptation, giving rise to a new optimism among formats rights holders around the world in one of Asia's most sophisticated drama markets.
With four episodes to go, the 16-episode prime-time Fri/Sat series hit nationwide ratings of 24.332% (AGB Nielsen) on Saturday (2 May). Sky Castle ended on 1 Feb 2019 with a high of 23.779%.
A World of Married Couple stars Kim Hee-ae (Sons and Daughters) as a successful doctor with a perfect life who finds things unravelling when she starts believing that her husband, played by Park Hae-joon (Arthdal Chronicles), is having an affair.
Of all 16 markets covered in Content Asia’s Formats Outlook, Korea has the highest percentage of drama formats. Nine of the 11 titles acquired/commissioned in Korea in 2019 were drama formats. Titles include BBC’s Luther, Endemol Shine Group’s Younger, Entertainment One’s Designated Survivor: 60 Days, Fuji TV’s Confidence Man and TV Asahi’s dele.
In comparison, Japan had eight drama titles (73%) of a total of 11 formats, and China had 13 (52%) of a total of 25 formats.
Korean scripted formats adapted across Asia included CJ ENM’s Black Malaysia (for Viu), KBS’ Descendants of the Sun Philippines (for GMA Network) and SBS’ My Love From The Star Thailand (for BEC World/Channel 3).
Overall, Korea’s formats landscape was a lot less active by volume in 2019 than in 2018. The number of drama titles fell from 13 to nine, a drop of 31%. There were no entertainment titles and games shows dipped from three titles in 2018 to one in 2019. Reality was unchanged at one title.
If A World of Married Couple is driving drama success, the return of ITV Studios’ The Voice to Korea after a seven-year break is driving entertainment/reality headlines for 2020.
The Voice Korea returns to CJ ENM’s Mnet, which aired the first two seasons, on 29 May 2020. 13 versions of The Voice are currently on air in Asia, making it the region’s top format at the moment.
CJ ENM producer, Sang Jun Park, says the current “harsh times” call for content that allow audiences to “share comfort and deep impressions”.
In addition to Korea, local versions air in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
33 versions of The Voice were commissioned/aired across Asia last year. These include 16 versions of the flagship format, 11 versions of The Voice Kids, two versions of The Voice Teens, and four versions of The Voice Senior.