tvN ratings slump and the (im)possibility of CIRCLE 2

I’m finally back after over two months of hiatus in A Fanboy’s Perspective, but even though my college life already ended, my workload hasn’t decreased a bit. That is so true especially now that I am regularly watching those shows — those Korean drama shows that sometimes blow you away completely. I’m currently watching Duel, The Best Hit, and Fight For My Way, and recently indulged myself in watching (and probably in living) the world of Circle, the science fiction drama of tvN that just ended on June 27 and left me longing for a new season. But is Circle 2 possible?

The likely answer is no. I have this opinion that Circle is undoubtedly the best drama broadcast by tvN in the first half of 2017 but it being the best and superb in quality doesn’t matter so much in deciding for a new season if it recorded poor ratings during its run. This is because tvN is a money-making enterprise after all, a basic fact that tells us it will not bother to make a new season for a drama that failed to bring in high ratings and profits for the network.

If you have been following Circle lately and monitoring its viewership ratings, you probably know how mediocre the numbers are or how poor the progress has become. The drama was actually off to a good start with its pilot episode rating of 2.88 % but this number ended up the highest among the individual ratings of the 12 episodes. You can see in the chart below that its rating exhibit a downward trend from episode 1 to 5, increased in episode 6, and decreased again until episode 9 from which the ratings went up until the finale. The end result of this up and down trend is an average rating of 2.13 % — not impressive but not too bad either.

Circle TV Ratings

Circle‘s recent run proved again that tvN is indeed suffering from a slump in television ratings since January 2017, or since Ji Eun-tak the bride met Kim Shin the goblin in the finale of the network’s biggest hit drama in 2016 (Goblin premiered in December last year and ended on January 21, 2017). Tomorrow With You took over Goblin‘s time slot every Fridays and Saturdays yet it failed to replicate Goblin‘s success or achieve significantly high ratings at least, and so did Chicago Typewriter despite the popularity of Yoo Ah-in, Shin Min-a, and Lee Je-hoon.

The situation for the Monday-Tuesday timeslot is no different. In fact Circle‘s average rating of 2.13 % is the highest among the three dramas that have aired in the first half of the year with both Introverted Boss and The Liar and His Lover having an average less than 2 %. You might ask if this is really a source of concern for the network, particularly if you consider that cable dramas usually get ratings around these values. I would nod considering the resounding success of the network’s dramas that have aired in the same period last year — from January to June 2016. Please have a look at the infographics below and see for yourself the big difference.

In sum: the combined average ratings of Mon-Sat tvN dramas in the first half of 2017 is 3.16 percentage points lower than the average of those which aired in the same period last year.  This is due to the massive success of Oh Hae Young Again and Cheese in the Trap which both achieved an average rating higher than 5 %. The difference is even higher for the Fri-Sat dramas, at nearly 3.7 %, due to the highly successful run of Signal and Dear My Friends (interestingly, both won Best Drama in Baeksang Arts Awards). Overall, the difference stands at 3.43 % which is quite huge.

So, is it possible for season 2 to happen? My answer remains the same (most likely NO) but it’s not because of the ratings alone. In deciding to make a new season of a drama, the folks at tvN look far beyond the ratings. If this wasn’t the case, shouldn’t have Signal 2 and Oh Hae Young Again 2 been confirmed already? The availability of the actors (assuming a similar cast) and the interest of the Korean audience for a sequel or prequel are just among of the many things to consider. However, it is possible that Circle 2 wouldn’t happen simply because season 2 of Korean dramas very rarely happens. That has been the norm in the industry for years.

I personally want to watch Circle 2 just like the fans in this thread in Dramabeans who have expressed how much they love the drama and like a season 2. However, I am afraid that the demand for a new season is just so low or non-existent at all for the executives at the network to entertain the idea. The Korean audience’s preference in their local dramas is quite perplexing. They endlessly adored Signal but awfully failed to notice the best of Circle, whose story is essentially as complex as Signal’s and demands a certain level of focus from the viewers as they watch each episode for them to understand what’s happening in the show. That kind of drama experience might be entertaining for some but for others, it might have been stressful and offers no fun at all. In any case, I sincerely hope that tvN will not stop in airing high-quality dramas like Circle on the grounds of poor ratings.

Will be hoping and waiting for Circle 2, tvN.

(A FANBOY’S PERSPECTIVE is a weekly feature in Kdramapal about anything related to Korean dramas, from a man’s point of view. For your feedback and questions, you can email the author at [email protected], message us on our Facebook page, or comment on this post below.)


Me? Just an ordinary lad with an extraordinary (says this something called 'stereotype') habit of watching Korean dramas. It started with action-filled City Hunter and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • I have never watched a drama that complex and intriguing so far! I am still crossing my fingers for the second season. If not something like it, or always tell us where byul came from?!

    • Hello, I am also wishing for a season 2 despite the small odds (as of last week the PD of the drama said that there is no plan yet for a new season). Maybe in season 2 they could choose to focus on Byul as an alien — her origin, the reason behind her appearance on earth, etc.. The finale hints at the possibility that she is not alone on earth, that there might be other aliens like her roaming around somewhere. I would like a season 2 focusing on that.

  • Why you no include secret forest aka stranger? 4.4 on ep7 from 4.1 ???? at least it increased… i hope for a better ratings for ep8… not out yet

    • Hi clxsebi, Secret Forest was not included in the infographics because it is not completed yet and since more than half of its episode count air in July, I consider it essentially as a drama in the second half of 2017.