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Stars're born through TV Chosun shows, while the winners of other shows fade out.

By Kang Hyun-kyung

TV Chosun has hit another jackpot with its latest K-pop audition show. In its first episode, which aired on Thursday, the cable television channel's audition show, tentatively translated into English as, "Korea's Next K-Pop Star," hit 16.1 percent in viewership, the highest among recent nighttime TV shows.

The first round of the show saw 110 acts, including soloists and groups, competing. Like its previous trot audition shows, contestants who win all 13 judges' hearts advance automatically to the next round, while those who earn six votes or less are instantly eliminated. The judges meet to discuss the fates of the participants who win between seven and 12 votes, and with the consensus of the judges, some are given a second chance to compete again in the second round.

A viewership of 4 percent for the rerun of the first episode during the weekend also confirmed its solid popularity.

The youngest contestant, Kim Yoo-ha, 7, became a rising star on the program's official YouTube channel. With her powerful voice, her video has over 1.1 million views as of Monday afternoon, and there are 10 others whose videos have received 100,000 views or more.

With its successive hit shows, TV Chosun, which is aiming to become a premium news channel, has emerged as an entertainment powerhouse for audition shows.

"Korea's Next K-Pop Star" is its fourth audition show, following the huge successes of its previous three trot competitions, "Miss Trot," which ran for two seasons, and "Mr. Trot."

With their continuing popularity, audition shows have become the cable network's cash cow. Last year, TV Chosun posted an annual profit of 60 billion won, topping other broadcasters and print media in terms of profits.

"Its previous three trot competitions were very popular, and their sensational successes seem to have helped viewers build confidence about TV Chosun shows," music critic Ha Jae-keun said. "Stars were born through those shows. The successes of previous shows seems to have sparked viewers' curiosity about the newest show, causing them to speculate on who's going to be the next star to be born through the new program and making them tune into the show."

TV audition shows, in general, are popular. But TV Chosun's shows are the most popular, all scoring double-digit viewership ratings. Mr. Trot set a ratings record among cable networks in 2019, hitting a viewership of 35.6 percent.

"TV Chosun shows are well-made. They are fun and the contestants there are more competitive than those who appear on other TV shows," said Ha.

On top of their popularity, TV Chosun shows are becoming a vehicle through which talented singers from humble backgrounds rise to stardom. The top contestants of other audition shows drew attention from viewers during the programs, but their popularity often fades out when those programs end.

Unlike the short-lived popularity of finalists on other TV shows, the winners of TV Chosun shows enjoy durable popularity with solid fan bases even after the shows end.

Ha said that the fans of TV Chosun shows are more loyal to their favorite singers than the fans of other TV shows.

"The loyal viewers of TV Chosun shows are middle-aged or older viewers, whereas fans of other audition shows are younger. The former tend to be loyal to their favorite stars, so the popularity of the finalists of TV Chosun shows outlasts their counterparts of other shows," Ha said. "And TV Chosun is good at post-show management of the winners. Follow-up programs are created for the finalists, enabling them to continue interacting with their fans."

Kang Hyun-kyung hkang@koreatimes.co.kr


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