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MBC TV could face 2 bln won in lost sales from 'Infinite Challenge' break

All Headlines 10:00 February 11, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- The seven-week break of "Infinite Challenge" is estimated to cost MBC TV around 2 billion won (US$1.75 million) in lost sales, industry experts predicted Saturday.

The mission-oriented reality TV show, first aired in 2005, is one of the most viewed non-drama programs in South Korea and a major ad seller for the terrestrial broadcaster.

This composite image captured from MBC TV shows Yoo Jae-suk (bottom L) and other stars appearing on the program "Infinite Challenge." (Yonhap)

The Saturday evening program entered a seven-week hiatus on Jan. 28 to "take time for reorganization." In its place will be shown a three-episode comedy special and reruns of past episodes.

"Infinite Challenge," which features a regular cast of celebrities including Yoo Jae-suk and Park Myeong-soo, has attracted 40 commercials per episode, worth a total of 540 million won in sales. Accordingly, during the seven weeks it would have raked in sales worth 3.8 billion won.

Last time "Infinite Challenge" was canceled was during a walkout by MBC TV's union in 2012.

With the new comedy special on Jan. 28, the number of ads for the time slot dropped to 20. Viewership of the show, despite the appearances of actor Kwon Sang-woo and comedian Jung Jun-ha, languished in the 5-6 percent range, far below the average 11-15 percent for "Infinite Challenge."

For weekend afternoon reruns of major weekday TV series, ad rates are normally slashed to more than half from the original broadcast.

The state-run Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation said ad prices for the upcoming "Infinite Challenge" reruns haven't been decided yet. But if ratings fall, it said, a drop in rate is likely unavoidable.

In this photo provided by MBC TV, comedians Jung Jun-ha (L), Yoo Jae-suk (C) and Park Myeong-soo (R) appear on the weekend comedy show "Infinite Challenge." (Yonhap)

Unless the specials and reruns perform better, and without an increase in ad buyers, the network may face up to 2 billion won in lost sales.

"For the past two weeks, the number of commercials for 'Infinite Challenge' has halved. Things could get worse or remain this way until 'Infinite Challenge' resumes," an advertisement industry expert forecasted.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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