Every TV network executive in Burbank cries into their organic
kombucha from time to time about the great show that just couldn’t find
an audience, whether it be from unlucky scheduling quirks or creative
concepts that were just too far ahead of their time.
And it’s not just a domestic issue — the producers of Korea’s Playful Kiss
saw their youth drama succumb to an inauspiciously short local-TV run
back in the fall of 2010, going up against hit time-period competition
from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (“Gumiho” translates into “nine-tailed fox,” a Chinese mythic figure, if that helps).
Like Terra Nova, that Knight Rider remake a few years back, or any show starring Christian Slater, Playful Kiss
might have been headed to the junk pile of so-called “broken series” —
shows that made it past the pilot stage but didn’t live long enough to
accumulate a syndication library. But Playful Kiss is proving to be more like Arrested Development,
a low-rated but critically beloved Fox comedy that was such a popular
streaming choice on Netflix, the company decided last year to resume
production of the show.
Through global TV streaming service ViKi, Playful Kiss
has become somewhat of a worldwide sensation, garnering a loyal
audience of nearly 7 million viewers and more than recouping a modest
production spend of under $1 million several million dollars to make 16
According to Razmig Hovaghimian, CEO of ViKi, which is based in
Singapore but keeps an office near its Bay Area funding, the show has
been streamed more than 70 million times by ViKi users, about 1,400 of
whom have used the site’s innovative group subtitling tool to translate
the show into 56 languages.
The series, about a quirky high school girl whose family moves into
the home of a popular boy she has a crush on following an earthquake,
has garnered an audience that’s 70 percent non-Asian, Hovaghimian said.
Ample viewership, for example, has come through a ViKi syndication
partnership with Hulu in the U.S., while producer Group 8 has already
worked with YouTube on a follow-up digital series.
Supplied to ViKi under barter advertising terms, Group 8 has recouped
$400,000 in ad revenue to date through the service, while the global
exposure of the series has enabled the company to take in another $3.5
million through a dozen foreign broadcast deals.
Sums up Group 8 CEO Song Byung Joon: ”ViKi helped Playful Kiss find its audience.”