Hi fellow drama-ers! Today, I have a very different post for you all. I don’t usually write these types of posts but one should always experiment and step out of their square every now and then, right? Since entering the dramaland and broadening my views on dramas from different countries, I have come to learn a thing or two about the support of a drama. I have come a long way from just watching a drama. I also pay attention to ratings, the writers, producers and even what channel the drama airs on!
It has sparked up my curiosity as to the different airing of dramas in different countries so this is what this post will be about today. Hopefully this will be somewhat informative for those who want to know a bit more on how dramas are aired. Or maybe you just want to calculate when subs will be released, but nonetheless, hopefully this will give you an insight to the way dramas are aired.
I am not 100% certain on these so please feel free to correct me or add something in! Also, please let me know if you would like to see more of these informative posts in the future! (:
Have fun reading! It might be complicated to understand but I tried to simplify it!
The airing of Chinese dramas is complicated but for one thing that is simple enough to understand is that the pacing of the rate of which the dramas air is crazy! Dramas can finish their run in as little as two weeks! Chinese dramas range in a number of eps from as little as 10 to 80+. Most eps are 45 minutes, not including commercials. Different network airs their dramas differently, but for most dramas it is aired Monday through to Friday/Saturday/Sunday at two to three consecutive eps each night, but usually more eps are aired from Monday-Thursday than Friday-Saturday, but that all depends on the network. Let’s take SOP Queen for example. It has a total of 33 eps; from Monday-Wednesday, three eps aired each night while from Thursday-Saturday, only one ep aired per night. Now let’s take Lan Ling Wang (AKA King of Lan Ling) for example; from Monday-Thursday, three eps aired per night while from Friday-Sunday, two eps aired per night. Yep, talk about crazy! Things get even more complicated when re-runs are being played.
China, being the big and vast country that it is has thousands of channels to cater for the different provinces, but to be close to precise, there are over 3,000 channels throughout China. This also explains why one cannot simply name all the dramas that has aired throughout the year. A drama may be produced by one channel but that drama may air simultaneously across different channels across China.
The main channels of China include, but are not limited to: CCTV-8 (China Central Television-8), Guangdong Satellite Television, Dragon Satellite Television, Zhejiang Satellite Television, Jiangsu Satellite Television, Hunan Satellite Television, Anhui Satellite Television and Tianjin Satellite Television.
Hong Kong Dramas
Hong Kong dramas air once a week, five times a week from Monday to Friday. There are three different time slots: 8:00-8:30pm is for sitcoms which are long-running family-friendly dramas, 8:30-9:30pm is for dramas which are more suitable for a general audience than the 9:30-10:30pm timeslot. However, the suitability of dramas during these two timeslots are quite debatable. For sitcoms, the eps runs for about 20 minutes not including commercials whereas for general dramas, they run for 45 minutes not including commercials. A double ep is usually aired for the finale on a Saturday or Sunday but this is not always the case. Most dramas are 20 eps and for dramas which are not 20 eps, they have an ep count of 5.
There are two commercial television stations in Hong Kong: TVB (Television Broadcasting Limited) and ATV (Asia Television Limited), however with declining ratings, ATV has since ceased to produce dramas leaving TVB as the sole drama-producing network in Hong Kong. However, this will soon change as there are a number of companies applying for free-to-air television license.
Japanese dramas are unique compared to dramas from other countries in that it has a very short ep count, usually of 10-11 eps. This is because new dramas are aired each drama season. The drama seasons are: Winter (January–March), Spring (April–June), Summer (July–September), and Autumn or Fall (October–December). Each ep airs for one hour, on a weekly basis. Dramas are aired everyday of the week. Each network airs dramas of different themes according to the timeslot. Dramas which are well-received may have a special ep which is usually aired between two drama seasons.
There are six major commercial broadcasting stations in Japan: NTV (Nippon Television), Fuji TV (Fuji Television), TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System), NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, English name is Japanese Broadcasting Corporation), TV Asahi and TV Tokyo. The most popular dramas come from NTV and Fuji TV. The Monday 9pm timeslot for Fuji TV is a very popular one with the dramas most anticipated and most watched. They are generally of the romance genre, though it is not always the case. Japanese dramas are not always family friendly. They have dramas in all types of categories and there are even dramas which contain nudity, and these are usually aired late at night and are produced by smaller networks.
Korean dramas follow a very routines airing schedule, if you would like to call it that. “Mainstream” dramas are broadcast everyday except for Fridays. Most dramas are aired in two day intervals, i.e. Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday. The dramas which are aired on weekdays are known as flagship dramas and generally have an ep count of 16-20, with each ep airing for one hour including commercials from 10-11pm. It is these dramas that generate the most popularity domestically and internationally. Dramas on the Saturday-Sunday schedule are known as weekend dramas, and usually have a longer ep count than flagship dramas. They are intended for family watching and are almost always based around families. There are also daily dramas which air Monday-Friday in the morning as well as in the evening.
Korea has three national television networks: SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System), MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation) and KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) which have at least one drama airing everyday of the week. There are also several cable television networks, of which the most popular ones are JTBC (Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company) and tvN (Total Variety Network). The Monday-Tuesday timeslot is the more competitive one, usually with a drama airing from each of these five networks.
Like China, the airing system of dramas in Taiwan is very confusing! Well, not the airing itself but the different channels and stuff, but I’ll get to that later. Taiwanese dramas are divided into two groups: idol dramas (the fluffy romance kind that I watch) and non-idol dramas. Idol dramas are the most popular kind of dramas in Taiwan and get the most popular timeslots which are Sundays 10-11:30pm and Fridays 10-11:30pm. Most eps are 90 minutes long, including commercials, airing once a week. They are usually 15-24 eps, which means that a new batch of dramas doesn’t arrive until half-year in. Then you have kinda daily dramas which air from Monday-Thursday and the eps can range from 60-90 minutes depending on the network.
Taiwan and China have a lot of drama collaborations together and when the drama is aired in Taiwan, two Chinese eps makes up one Taiwanese eps. For example, Lan Ling Wang which has 46 eps when aired in China has 22 eps when aired in Taiwan. The Taiwan version tends to be longer than the Chinese versions because it contains scenes which are cut from the Chinese version.
Taiwan has six free-to-air networks: TTV (Taiwan Television), CTV (China Television), CTS (Chinese Television System), FTV (Formosa Television) and PTS (Public Television). The relationship between these networks is something that I do not fully understand. There are also a number of cable networks, of which the two most popular ones are SETTV (Sanlinh E-Television) and GTV (Gala Television). A drama may be produced by one network, but it also gets aired on another only a day or so after the initial broadcast. This usually occurs for dramas which are produced by a cable network. It gets its initial broadcast on the cable network but also gets an airing on a free-to-air network. For example, the currently airing The Pursuit of Happiness is produced and initially aired on Fridays on GTV but it is also aired the next day on TTV.
For those of you who are frequent watchers of Taiwanese dramas may notice that most of the high-rating dramas are aired on SETTV but also get aired on TTV. This is because they are sister channels, or something like that.
So this is how dramas are aired in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.