Korean Drama Ratings 2018: Statistics & Trends

The third part of our post series titled HIGHEST-RATED 2018 have looked at statistics and trends concerning television viewership ratings of all Korean dramas in 2018. Without further ado, let’s see the interesting numbers that might surprise us.

Overall Average Ratings

For this part, we have discovered a disappointingly downward trend in the overall average rating of all terrestrial TV dramas. In this category, the overall average fell from 8.2% in 2017 to 5.6% last year, a 32% decrease. When we compare the data last year to that in 2016, the decrease reaches 43%. On the other hand, cable dramas enjoyed a 41% increase from 3.4% in 2017 to 4.8% in 2018. In sum, while the terrestrial series have been suffering from low viewership since 2016, the cable dramas have seen a significant increase in their audience shares.

You can visit the 2017 and 2016 rankings and see for yourself how the ratings for terrestrial dramas have turned out over the last three years. In 2016, six of them obtained an average rating of 15% or better. Can you imagine the difference between the two year (versus 2018)?

  • 33 Terrestrial TV Dramas – 5.6%
    • Highest – Return (13.7%)
    • Lowest – The Great Seducer (2.2%)
  • 37 Cable TV Dramas – 4.8%
    • Highest – Mr. Sunshine (13.0%)
    • Lowest – A Poem A Day (1.0%)

Average Ratings By Broadcast Schedule

Terrestrial Category

Wednesday-Thursday dramas reign supreme in this category, albeit by a narrow margin.

  • 18 Monday-Tuesday Dramas – 5.4%
    • Highest – The Miracle We Met (10.9%)
    • Lowest – The Great Seducer (2.2%)
  • 15 Wednesday-Thursday Dramas – 5.7% (highest)
    • Highest – Return (13.7%)
    • Lowest – Feel Good To Die and The Ghost Detective (2.7%)

Cable Category

In cable TV, Friday-Saturday dramas, which all belong to JTBC, are the winners thanks to Sky Castle‘s record viewership that made history. In the absence of the satirical series, however, the Wednesday-Thursday group is the real record-holder.

  • 11 Monday-Tuesday Dramas – 3.6% (lowest)
    • Highest – 100 Days My Prince (9.0%)
    • Lowest – A Poem A Day (1.0%)
  • 7 Wednesday-Thursday Dramas – 5.3%
    • Highest – Encounter (8.5%)
    • Lowest – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2.9%)
  • 6 Friday-Saturday Dramas – 5.7% (highest)
  • 13 Saturday-Sunday Dramas – 5.1%
    • Highest – Mr. Sunshine (13.0%)
    • Lowest – Mistress (1.2%)

Average Ratings by Genre Group

Terrestrial Category

When we look at both the average and the standard deviation, workplace dramas are truly exceptional. On one hand, the romance and romantic comedy group is clearly the worst performer.

  • 11 Romance & Romantic Comedy – 3.9% (lowest)
    • Highest – Thirty But Seventeen (9.0%)
    • Lowest – The Great Seducer (2.2%)
  • 8 Sci-fi, Mystery, Action, & Thriller – 6.2%
    • Highest – Return (13.7%)
    • Lowest – The Ghost Detective and Bad Papa (2.7%)
  • 8 Melodrama & Satire – 6.4%
    • Highest – The Miracle We Met (10.9%)
    • Lowest – Hold Me Tight (3.4%)
  • 4 Workplace Drama (Legal, Medical, etc.) – 7.3% (highest)
    • Highest – Suits (8.9%)
    • Lowest – Switch: Change The World (6.2%)
  • 2 Other – 5.4%

Cable Category

Whether or not you include the outliers (Sky Castle & Mr. Sunshine) in the calculations, the melodrama and satire group remains the winner in this category.

  • 13 Romance & Romantic Comedy – 5.5%
    • Highest – Mr. Sunshine (13.0 %)
    • Lowest – About Time (1.6%)
  • 13 Sci-fi, Mystery, Action, & Thriller – 3.9%
    • Highest – Memories of the Alhambra (8.4%)
    • Lowest – Mistress (1.2%)
  • 5 Melodrama & Satire – 6.6% (highest)
    • Highest – Sky Castle (12.5%)
    • Lowest – Mother (3.5%)
  • 5 Workplace Drama (Legal, Medical etc.) – 4.0%
    • Highest – Live (5.8%)
    • Lowest – A Poem A Day (1.0%)
  • 1 Other – 1.8% (lowest)

Average Ratings by Source Material

Terrestrial Category

  • 7 Adapted from/based on other TV series, novel, film, or webtoon – 4.2%
    • Highest – Suits (8.9%), remake of a US TV series
    • Lowest – The Great Seducer (2.2%), loosely based on a French novel
  • 26 Original – 5.9 % (highest)

Cable Category

  • 11 Adapted from/based on other TV series, novel, film, or webtoon – 4.0%
  • 26 Original – 5.1 % (highest)

Average Ratings by TV Network

Terrestrial Category

Despite the drop in the overall average rating, SBS has dominated the ratings race for the third time since 2016, with its legal thriller Return topping the ranking of Korean dramas last year. Interestingly, the title-holder (Defendant) in 2017 is also a legal thriller SBS drama.

  • 11 KBS2 Dramas – 4.9%
    • Highest – The Miracle We Met (10.9%)
    • Lowest – Dance Sports Girls (2.3%)
  • 11 MBC Dramas – 4.4% (lowest)
    • Highest – Terius Behind Me (8.5%)
    • Lowest – The Great Seducer (2.2%)
  • 11 SBS Dramas – 7.4% (highest)
    • Highest – Return (13.7%)
    • Lowest – The Undateables (3.6%)

Cable Category

tvN broadcast both the highest and lowest-rated drama in this category. However, the massive success of the former outweighs the very poor performance of the latter, so it’s a happy ending for the network overall. In 2017, JTBC and its drama were on top of the rankings.

  • 11 JTBC Dramas – 4.7%
    • Highest – Sky Castle (12.5%)
    • Lowest – Welcome To Waikiki (1.8%)
  • 8 OCN Dramas – 3.3% (lowest)
    • Highest – Voice 2 (4.9%)
    • Lowest – Mistress (1.2%)
  • 18 tvN Dramas – 5.5% (highest)
    • Highest – Mr. Sunshine (13.0%)
    • Lowest – A Poem A Day (1.0%)

Standardized Ratings

Best Performers by Genre Group: Melodramas & Satires

Best Performers by TV Network: SBS Dramas

Top Rated Korean Dramas:

More content from Kdramapal

Samfann

Samfann is a writer and editor for Kdramapal. He works closely with other writers to produce and publish online content. At the age of 21, he founded a Korean entertainment blog that went on to become a major player in the industry. He spends most of his free time watching American and Korean TV series and doing volunteer work for an online initiative that provides underserved students with grants and scholarships. He's also passionate about unique and revolutionary ideas that make the world a better place.