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SoftBank to Acquire Online-Video Startup DramaFever

Japan’s SoftBank Group said it will acquire DramaFever, an Internet video-on-demand player that specializes in international TV shows and movies.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in 2009, New York-based DramaFever has raised $12 million to date from its investors including AMC Networks, Bertelsmann, MK Capital, SoftBank Ventures, NALA Investments and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen. The company’s board includes founders Seung Bak and Suk Park, along with Ross Levinsohn — the former CEO of Yahoo and Guggenheim Digital Media — and Bret Maxwell, managing general partner of MK Capital.

Deal comes after SoftBank made a $250 million investment in Legendary Entertainment earlier this month, in a pact that could be worth up to $1 billion. The telecommunications and Internet conglomerate also had been in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation for some $3.4 billion.

“In five short years since going live, DramaFever has built an impressive Internet-based streaming video business operating at scale,” Nikesh Arora, vice chairman of SoftBank and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media, said in announcing the deal. “Seung Bak and Suk Park have a proven business model in a dynamic industry, and we look forward to helping them bring their highly popular video content to an even larger global audience.”

DramaFever provides content from more than 70 major broadcasters and studios throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas, with a lineup of 15,000 episodes from 700 shows available either on a first-run, same-day or next-day basis from the original broadcast. An advertising-free subscription plan is $9.99 per month. DramaFever also syndicates a portion of its library to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes, with an overall reach of more than 20 million unique monthly viewers.

According to DramaFever, most of its viewers are women 18-24. Roughly 40% of the site’s users are white, 30% are Hispanic, 15% are black and 15% are Asian. Paying subscribers to the service watch an average of 53.9 hours per month on DramaFever — more than Netflix.

Morrison & Foerster LLP acted as legal adviser to the SoftBank Group. The Raine Group LLC acted as financial adviser and Gunderson Dettmer acted as legal adviser to DramaFever.

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