Chinese TV reboots Korean game shows for celebrity thrills

Tue Feb 3, 2015 11:20pm EST
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By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese producers are getting round curbs on foreign television content with homegrown versions of South Korean variety shows, cashing in on the popularity of "Korean Wave" cinema and celebrities captured in unscripted moments.

As they target China's $19-billion TV industry, South Korean producers such as SBS Media Holdings, are moving beyond selling rights to Korean television dramas.

They are licensing remakes of reality shows, which promise viewers the thrill of seeing stars conspire together, or take a tumble.

"Since foreign programs were barred from airing during China's prime time, local co-production has become the easiest way to broadcast in China," said Kim Yong-jae, a Korean co-producer of the game show "Hurry Up, Brother".

An estimated 4.2 percent of homes with TV sets tuned in to "Hurry Up, Brother" on Jan. 9, says CSM Media Research, an unprecedented figure in China, where most television is watched online.

The show, in which Chinese celebrities, such as Deng Chao and Angelababy, compete in obstacle races and vie to rip off each other's name tags, is based on the SBS hit "Running Man".

Cultural similarities explain the popularity of the shows, said Kim, adding, "We find a lot of the same things funny."

Korean products appeal to Chinese viewers as they play on Confucian values, such as respect for elders, producers say.   Continued...