×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

With DramaFever’s Demise, Other Services Step Up to Cater to K-Drama Fans

The abrupt termination of the DramaFever service this week by Warner Bros. left U.S. aficionados of Korean dramas distraught and angry — and looking for alternative streaming services to meet their K-drama fix.

Services like Viki, owned by Japan’s Rakuten, and Kocowa, a streaming service from the three biggest broadcasters in Korea, offer a range of Korean and other Asian television shows to consumers in the U.S. Among other services, Netflix and Hulu also have a variety of K-dramas.

“As a company that values and understands the passionate K-drama community worldwide, we are saddened by the sudden news of DramaFever shutting down,” said Clara Kim, head of brand and communications for Rakuten Viki.

Kim added, “K-drama holds a special place in all of our hearts and we stand committed behind our Soompi and Viki services to continue providing the best of Korean dramas, variety shows and other international entertainment to global fans.”

Viki offers an array of more than 1,100 K-dramas and Korean variety shows, including perennial favorite “Boys Over Flowers,” “Suspicious Partner,” “My Love From the Star,” “Descendants of the Sun,” “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon,” “Pinocchio,” “Fated to Love You,” “To the Beautiful You,” “The Great Doctor,” “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” “She Was Pretty,” “Oh My Venus” and “While You Were Sleeping.”

Titles on Viki are available to watch free with ads; Viki’s ad-free, HD service costs $34.99 annually; Viki Pass Plus, which includes access to Kocowa’s programming, is $99.99 per year.

Globally, Rakuten says Viki reaches more than 40 million fans through its platforms, which includes Soompi, an English-language news site for K-pop and Korean entertainment, and Viki, which uses a crowdsourced subtitling model with content that has been translated into more than 200 languages.

Korea Content Platform’s Kocowa, which launched a year ago, is a joint venture of Korean broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS. The Kocowa service streams popular Korean television programs on-demand in the U.S. delivered five hours after airing in Korea. To date, it has attracted 500,000 users, including for ad-supported VOD content.

Kocowa’s lineup of Korean shows includes exclusive U.S. distribution of spy rom-com “My Secret, Terrius,” which previously was available on DramaFever. Other series include “Matrimonial Chase,” “My Healing Love,” “Where Stars Land,” “Should We Kiss First,” “Heart Surgeons” and “My Only One.”

Kunhee Park, CEO of KCP, said he expected DramaFever to make some kind of change in its business given its aggressive spending on programming rights. But he said he expected Warner Bros. to try to sell DramaFever rather than kill it off. “They spent a lot money in the market, in the Korean production ecosystem, to acquire content,” Park said. KCP had approached DramaFever about bundling Kocowa with the service, “but they were not interested in a nonexclusive approach.”

Ad-free access to Kocowa is available for 99 cents per day, $6.99 monthly or $69.99 per year, in addition to the bundle offered by Viki. Besides scripted shows, Kocowa also features popular Korean variety programs, including “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth,” “Wok of Love,” “Star Show 360” and “Running Man.”

Among general-entertainment SVOD services, Netflix’s lineup of Korean shows includes “Strong Girl Bong-soon,” “Something in the Rain,” “Boys Over Flowers” season 1, and exclusive series including “Mr. Sunshine” and “Black.” Hulu’s selection includes “Heirs,” “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” “Bride of the Water God,” “Descendants of the Sun,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Oh My Venus” and “Just Between Lovers.” Amazon Prime Video had a distribution deal with DramaFever; those titles are listed as no longer available on Prime Video.

Other streaming services with Korean programming include ODK Media’s OnDemandKorea, which offers ad-supported and subscription-based access to shows including “I’m a Mother, Too,” “My Only One,” “Ms Ma, Nemesis,” “Madam Cha Dal-Rae’s Love,” “Sunny Again Tomorrow,” “Two Lives One Heart,” “Love to the End,” and “Matrimonial Chaos.”

In announcing the DramaFever closure, Warner Bros. Digital Networks cited “business reasons” and “the rapidly changing marketplace for K-drama content.” In other words, according to a source, the cost of licensing Korean programming had been increasing rapidly.

Soon after announcing the DramaFever shutdown, Warner Bros. also deleted the service’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A notice posted on the DramaFever website on Oct. 16 said the company will “be issuing refunds as applicable, and subscribers will receive an email from us with details in the coming days.”

Pictured above: “Suspicious Partner” on Rakuten’s Viki

More Digital

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

  • variety digital innovators

    Variety's Digital Innovators 2019: The Trailblazers Pushing Media Boundaries

    A decade ago, when the streaming-video revolution was in its infancy, the internet was more complementary than disruptive to Hollywood. Those days are gone. New platforms have risen up as Silicon Valley players have bulldozed onto the scene, and the media biz is rebuilding the ways it reaches audiences. With the inaugural Variety Digital Innovators [...]

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix Q4 Preview: Price Hike Signals Strong Year-End Quarter

    Netflix is feeling its oats with a price hike across all streaming plans in the U.S.: Coming just two days before it reports fourth-quarter 2018 results, the timing of the fee increases may indicate the company will report a big beat on Q4 expectations. The streamer is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, Jan. 17, after [...]

  • IMDb UnMade - Rainn Wilson, Nick

    Amazon's IMDb Launches Original Series 'UnMade' About Comedians' Rejected Hollywood Pitches

    IMDb, the Amazon-owned entertainment database, has premiered its latest original show: “UnMade,” featuring Rainn Wilson, Nick Cannon, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts and other comedians discussing early pet projects that were never produced, until now — sort of. In each episode, one of the guest comedians recounts a project they created and pitched back when they were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content