If I were asked which couple I’d like to watch “After Marriage,” my number one couple would be Lee Jin Soo and Seo Eun Young of Coffee House. But in life, one can’t always get what they want… unless he or she is a Playful Kiss fan. On November 2, Playful Kiss began releasing its youtube short episodes. The first one is just under twelve minutes and within a day, has already garnered over half a million hits.
The drama had excruciatingly bad ratings on Korean television but its online popularity is the largest I’ve ever seen for a Korean drama. Its viikii page has almost forty-six thousand that declare to “like” it and thousands more show an interest on facebook. So taking the large international fanbase into account, it does make sense for a drama failing in one medium to try another.
It might be too early to call but even with only one day of data to analyze, I think it’s fair to say that posting these short episodes online was a pretty smart move. Over 500K hits in a day does sound a lot better than a 3.5% ratings score, doesn’t it?
A Joe Cheng-helmed tudou drama called That Love Comes began airing in September 2010. At thirty minutes an episode, it’s much shorter than the typical Taiwanese drama which usually runs for thrice as long, but isn’t that much shorter than your average Mainland drama (it’s a Taiwan and Mainland collaboration). I’ve seen about three episodes so far and can see that no less work has been put into this than your typical made-for-television drama. It’s beautifully shot, has a Cinderella plot and stars a big name. For someone like me who usually watches my TV shows online, I can’t really tell a difference and from what I understand, neither can the fans or critics because the response has been quite favorable.
What could this mean for my fellow drama-addicts? Perhaps that more and more Asian production companies will explore this medium and make their shows more easily legally accessible by foreign fans. I, for one, do not mind buying a DVD set of my favorite Asian dramas but they must be smoking crack if they expect me to drop $100 on a 16-episode drama that I’ve never seen. And even with live streaming, most of us still can’t watch foreign shows. So posting them online with subs will be a great solution. But they’re going to have to do something about those ads, though. I was watching a drama on dramafever the other day and the same damn Citizens Bank ad came on every ten minutes. By the time I was done with the episode, I really hated Citizens Bank – and I’ve been with them for over seven years!
All in all, despite the fact that I’m not going to be watching the PK webisodes, I think it’s a step in the right direction. And I hope that other companies watch closely and follow suit. Low ratings don’t always mean that a show is a failure -it might just mean that it has a niche market and majority of its audience don’t have nielsen boxes in their homes. Maybe if television ad buyers become elusive when the ratings are bad, online ad buyers can become the target. And this way, fans of the show don’t get screwed with shortened episodes. I think most of us will watch our beloved shows wherever we can find them, be it television or online.
Having said that, since I’m already on my knees praying, can The Powers That Be give me a Coffee House special? Oh well, if wishes were horses…