Kim Yu-na's TV Show Struggles in the Ratings

      June 01, 2011 13:41

      Kim Yu-na /Courtesy of SBS

      Figure skating champion Kim Yu-na is having a tough time with her first reality TV show, "Kiss and Cry" on SBS, which posted the lowest ratings among the evening variety shows in the highly competitive Sunday evening slot.

      According to ratings researcher TNmS, last Sunday's episode of "Kiss and Cry" had an average viewer rating of just 8.1 percent, down 2.4 points from the first show on May 22. It ranked last among Sunday evening variety shows on the nation's three terrestrial broadcasters. In contrast, "I am a Singer" on MBC posted 14 percent to take the top spot, while "Qualifications of Men" on KBS2 saw ratings rise from 6.6 to 9.2 percent. Broadcasts of Kim's World Figure Skating Championship performance, by contrast, drew ratings in the 40 percent range.

      SBS had been struggling in the Sunday evening slot and turned to Kim as a potential savior. The broadcaster ripped apart an entire studio at its production site in Ilsan, north of Seoul, and built a special 22 m by 15 m ice rink there that is kept at a steady temperature via coils embedded in the floor. Experts apparently check the quality of the ice once a day.

      "A company that builds ice rinks liked the idea of the show and built the rink in the studio at half the normal cost," an SBS spokesman said. "It did not cost as much as people think." But since it will be torn down after seven or eight weeks, it is hardly cheap.

      Kim's fee has been subject to a lot of speculation. Rumor has it that SBS paid top dollar to get the figure skater, who is a novice in TV variety shows. Top variety show hosts Yoo Jae-suk, a popular comedian, and Kang Ho-dong, a former Korean wrestling or "ssireum" champion, make around W10 million (US$1=W1,080) per episode.

      SBS says someone like Kim, who makes hundreds of millions from commercials, cannot have agreed to host the show because of money. "She just liked the idea of boosting interest in figure skating," and rumors that she was paid huge amounts of money "just aren't true." 

      Pundits say the reason "Kiss and Cry" failed is a lack of excitement. "Figure skating is not a sport that is enjoyed by the general public, and the concept of having 10 celebrities compete after being paired with 10 professional figure skaters can easily become boring," one expert said.

      The first episode drew criticism after some guests, including popular singer IU, were seen as putting on a half-hearted performance on the ice. And Sunday's episode spent 20 minutes reviewing the highlights of the last show.

      Nam Seung-yong, the producer of "Kiss and Cry," said, "Reality TV shows usually gain momentum as the show progresses. Viewers will become more interested when they get to hear about the real-life stories of the professional skaters."

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