With the emergence of online video services OTT, new drama broadcasting methods also appeared.
According to broadcasters on November 19th, each broadcasting company is trying to adapt to new content formats, such as short and mid-form, or new viewing behaviors like “binge-watching”.
In the past, dramas that released 2 episodes a week were divided into different time slots, such as Mon-Tue, Wed-Thu, and weekends. However, more and more series are now being organized with one or three broadcasts per week.
JTBC recently announced the plan to air its new drama “Reborn Rich”, starring Song Joong Ki, three times a week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Before that, JTBC had always organized weekend dramas with only 2 broadcasts on Saturdays and Sundays.
This time, JTBC decided to air three episodes at once because they believed that this method of showing more broadcasts, which has recently become a trend, is suitable for such a drama that emphasizes story immersion and speedy developments.
At the press conference for “Reborn Rich”, director Jung Dae Yoon mentioned the drama’s unusual broadcasting format with 3 episodes per week. He said, “To be honest, I wondered if it would be too much for a drama at first. But isn’t OTT releasing all episodes of each drama at once?”, adding, “I think it goes well with the recent trend among viewers”.
On the contrary, there are cases in which episodes are released once a week to increase the completeness of the work and improve the production environment.
tvN’s “Hospital Playlist” applied this method to both Seasons 1 and 2.
Director Shin Won Ho said, “Considering the producing environment, airing two episodes consecutively is a little too much, so only one episode will be released each week”. In fact, viewers also sympathized with the harsh drama shooting environment with many overnight shoots to meet the broadcasting time. Despite its unusual broadcasting format, the drama received favorable responses.
Some works decided to go with one broadcast per week after securing solid viewers. This also reflected the situation in which filming was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike its previous seasons which aired twice a week, the 3rd season of SBS K-drama “Penthouse” only released 1 episode per week. In addition, the first half of TV Chosun drama “Becoming Witch” is aired twice per week, while episodes 7 to 12 were released on a weekly basis.
The number of episodes per K-drama has changed as well. In the past, most mini-series include 16 episodes. However, the 12-episode format has become more popular among K-dramas nowadays. Some were even as short as 8 episodes, proving that current series are getting shorter and shorter.
Compared to the “traditional” 16 episode length, the narrative of 12-episode dramas was developed in a compressed way, leading to better reception due to the lack of fillers and better sense of pacing.
In an interview at the end of the show, Kim Sejeong, who starred in “Business Proposal”, said, “The advantage of the 12-episode series is that unnecessary scenes can be omitted, so the episodes are intense and the development is fast.”
Meanwhile, MBC has produced 2 of the winning works from last year’s script contest as 4-episode miniseries, including “Hunted” (which ended in August), and “Please Send A Fan Letter” (which premiered on November 18th). Producer Jeong Sang Hee, who directed “Please Send A Fan Letter”, expressed, “I wanted to complete the story within 4 episodes rather than lengthening it to 16 episodes.”
In addition, an official from a broadcasting station explained, “In the past, writers wrote according to the set format of 16 episodes, but now the production environment has changed and drama materials have diversified, so the length is determined by the size of the story.”
He also added, “Since viewers have become accustomed to OTT dramas and prefer shorter contents, it is natural for broadcasting stations to change their ways. It is expected that there will be more dramas with less episodes in the future.”