Drama Airing Schedules

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!

Chinese Dramas

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 TelevisionDragon 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

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

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.

Taiwanese Dramas

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.

15 thoughts on “Drama Airing Schedules

  1. Bumbleberri December 12, 2013 at 7:32 am Reply

    very informative post! 😊 I am familiar with the general stuff like episode disparities and genres, but still learned lots of new things. This is really interesting for me since I tend to watch a variety – chinese, taiwanese, korean, and japanese drama.

    • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 9:20 am Reply

      Thank you!( (:

      I watch a variety of dramas too! From all of those five categories!

  2. heisui December 12, 2013 at 10:22 am Reply

    Totally agree about the crazy-fast airing schedule of c-dramas. I remember when BBJX, LLW were released and finished in like a couple of weeks because they air the episodes so fast. O___O I guess it’s nice because you get to marathon them but it only makes me feel a bit overwhelmed b/c we have all the episodes coming at us all at once!

    • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 10:30 am Reply

      I know, it’s crazy over in China! Yeahh, it does feel good to marathon them but then again, there is so much eps per drama!

    • timeinthegray December 12, 2013 at 10:52 am Reply

      Haha, Hunan is so crazy. I don’t know how anyone keeps up!

      • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        Ahaha, it’s amazing that people are able to do so at all!

  3. rarapop December 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful post! It’s very interesting to see the different broadcasting styles of the different countries. You also answered a nagging question that I’ve had about why Taiwanese shows have two times listed on their posters! Now I finally understand why! Hazzah! 🙂

    • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad that this post was informative. (: Yeahh, I always wondered why Taiwanese shows have two airing times too but after some research I finally found the answer.

  4. carolies541 December 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm Reply

    Even though the C-drama broadcasting schedule sounds crazy on paper, I like it that there’s no need for live-shooting and as an audience, I don’t have to suffer from the torture of waiting (especially tw-dramas where it takes about 20 weeks to finish broadcasting).

    • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm Reply

      So true! Chinese dramas have excellent production qualities as they have ample of time to do post-production. Sometimes they can have 1+ years of post-production!

      Taiwanese dramas can be so annoying in that way! It can take around half a year to finish a drama!

  5. NeeNee December 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm Reply

    I thought it was funny when I saw broadcast dates for Chinese dramas with lots of episodes ending in a month or less. Now I know why. Even though I’ve been watching Asian dramas for years, I still think in US terms. Soaps air daily except weekends, prime time dramas air one episode a week. Thinking of a drama that runs multiple times a week with multiple episodes in a day…crazy. But then again, these aren’t series with multiple seasons (necessarily) like in the US, so that’s why I prefer them now since US dramas run forever and eventually self-destruct with horrible cast changes, redundant plots, etc.

    Thanks for the information!!!!

    • misscupcakees December 12, 2013 at 11:42 pm Reply

      I’m glad that this post was informative! Also extra happy that you enjoyed it! (:

      I am glad that there aren’t multiple long-running seasons with Asian dramas because this is what put me off a lot of US series since they, like you said, self-destruct. They start off well but then new characters get added in and this changes the plot and then it just goes downhill from there. The only US series that I am currently catching is Revenge.

  6. kat. December 13, 2013 at 2:04 am Reply

    Very helpful post indeed! I didn’t realise SETTV & GTV were cable channels! I just thought the two airing times were… I don’t know, for people who might be busy or something LOL! (Or since there’s like 100 channels in TW, they need to fill them with something… seriously, it’s a mammoth task to channel surf in TW since I don’t know the channel numbers!!!!)

    I don’t really understand why CDramas are aired this way, it’s hard to create buzz or a following for a drama if it only airs for like 3 weeks.

    Two new free to air channels are coming in HK right. It’s like they’ve agreed to give them the license on principle? But haven’t actually given the license? (what the heck is that?) Now TV already has The Virtuous Queen of Han completed so looks like they will be making dramas, the other channel Fantastic TV or whatever probably won’t be. Even the name sounds… hrm, silly. :S

    • misscupcakees December 14, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

      Thank you! Glad that I was of help! Yeahh, I was always curious as to why there were two different airing times for the one drama!

      Yeahh, it is, but if it rakes in the ratings then it is good revenue and if it doesn’t then there isn’t much to lose. It is very hard for me to follow a c-drama since they air so fast!

      Supposedly, though I am not sure if they have been granted the license yet. I think it is still in talks for the license. I’m not really sure with about the license situation in HK, I just know that there are currently two free-to-air channels with TVB being the leader.

  7. manda March 16, 2014 at 11:01 am Reply

    I’m wondering if anyone would be able to answer these questions.
    Do Korean dramas and Japanese dramas play uninterrupted, or do they take commercial breaks? And if so, how many?
    Not much luck finding answers online, but the answers I did find were conflicting. With K-dramas, for instance, when watching them on viki or whatever, I realized the drama itself runs a full 60 minutes or more. Over here (U.S.), our hour shows are really only about 45 minutes because the other 15 are taken up by commercial breaks. So do K-dramas play with commercials breaks, thus taking up longer than a 60 minute block of airtime or do no commercial interruptions take place at all? Maybe just at the beginning and end of the show? Like a sort of break between the previous and next drama that airs?

    I couldn’t find any info on Jdramas, but watching some online, I notice they run about 40-45 minutes. Is that because they air commercial breaks that take up the other 15 (which are just removed when they are subbed and uploaded online), or are Jdramas just written as 45min shows? I’ve noticed Korean cable shows like Shut Up Flower Boy Band && Joseon X-files, well, specifically dramas on TVN, clock in at 44 minutes. I’m wondering if the format for Cable shows is a 45 min. drama instead of a 1 hour. Are commercial played on the cable channels during Korean dramas? (Here in the U.S., apparently on some cable stations no commercials are aired during hour dramas.)

    Sorry for all the questions. I’m really hardpressed to find anyone that can answer. I’m working on a few screenwriting projects at the moment && I have no idea how the teleplay format of each respective country is. I’ve searched online, asked around on tumblr…lol, no answers. Of course what I really need is to speak with a Korean and Japanese screenwriter but that’s not really possible. I figured at least knowing whether or not commercials are aired && the actual runtimes of a drama would be something to get me started.

    Thanks for your time.
    && thanks for the informative post.

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