Basically the shock of the day. Y’all this is so crazy and unexpected. Dramafever is closed – for good. That is a weird thing to write considering I thought they were a leader in the industry (I mean, weren’t they just at Kcon in LA?). Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HanCinema all use/used Dramafever for their streaming services. What in the world is going on? I have a subscription to Dramafever and did not get any news about anything related to the possibility that they would be closing shop in the coming days. They still have on going shows that they are streaming which makes me think that this was not a decision that Dramafever made, it is most likely something that happened with the higher ups.
After googling it for a moment, I read a very nice article at Variety that went into a good amount of detail on the sudden closure. The Variety article mentioned that Dramafever was purchased by Warner Bros. in 2016 where Dramafever was incorporated into Warner Bros Digital Labs. Here is what they released in a statement Tuesday
“Today, Warner Bros. Digital Networks will be closing its DramaFever OTT service due to business reasons and in light of the rapidly changing marketplace for K-drama content, a staple of the service’s programming…Warner Bros. Digital Labs, which encompasses more than two-thirds of the DramaFever workforce, will continue operating, serving as the tech engine behind many of WBDN’s operations.”
Which sounds to me like they did not know what to do with Dramafever after purchasing it and, instead of working with them, are rather cutting it from their Digital Labs branch of Warner Bros. Twenty-two people will be laid off as of right now and I’m sure a slew of contract workers no longer have that job as well. Wow.
Variety mentions that the price of a Kdrama might have been a deciding factor to Warner Bros. I guess Kdramas used to be cheap, but now pull in a whopping $1 million per series. I can understand that, with Netflix getting into the mix, but was that really enough to close the entire site? Couldn’t they have pulled back in other ways? Raised the price a few bucks? This really reminds me of that drama Life where the CEO came in and immediately cut the least performing branches of the hospital without talking to anyone about it. I have a feeling that might be going on here.
But don’t put the blame solely on the feet of Warner Bros. AT&T acquired Time Warner this year to the tune of $85 billion. Warner Media was a company created after that consolidation with plans to anchor their streaming service through HBO. They explained up front that some changes were going to be made; getting rid of Dramafever was apparently one of those changes.
A shutdown with no notice makes no sense. I mean some people were watching a show, paused to get something to eat, came back and – surprise, no more site. What in the world. It really feels like an April Fools Joke and makes me think that this is still a joke of some kind.
What?! What the heck happened?! Didnt see this one coming 😮😮😮
Agree on the shock. Have Netflix but some of the categorisation of Asian drama was kinda weird. Also, not sure the new owners knew exactly what type of market they were dealing with, hence the hasty decision. My question is: are the customers then going to Hulu/ Viu or??
It really sucked. Feels like someone pulled the rug under my feet. Damn Att.
and I have dramas half watched.
It reeks of a scam. Even though DF was a real legitimate site. Hopefully they refund everyone soon in order to save face a bit.
I didn’t use DramaFever but I have surely been aware of it as a major presence. To have it closed in such a manner is very shocking. It almost seems like the Higher-Ups did this without being aware and without caring about the significance of DramaFever. Such a shame for everyone!
I think DF people are super shocked, too. They wouldn’t have just shuddered their site so coldly like this which makes me think it was an executive decision. I dont even think DF wrote that closing message. Actually, maybe they got the news at the same time as all of us.
Thanks for the commentary on dramafever closing. Seems bizarre to alienate so many subscribers, I would have easily paid more for my subscription. I am in the midst of watching Terius behind me with So Ji Sub, any idea who is streaming it? Viki is not, and Viu doesnt stream in the US. Help
I have to go illegal route I think. Drama cool 9 dot com
I am in the same spot.
I think this is the only option for a lot of watchers right now. The only question is whether the illegal sites with have subs. I think they steal all their subs from the legal ones like Dramafever and Viki.
Terius is on Kocowa!!
In my country (Europe), suddenly a lot of older K-dramas became available on Netflix today.
No such luck in the US Netflix.
Which ones came up?
Secret Garden, Suspicious Partner, Doctors, Doctor Romantic, Don’t Dare to Dream, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho etc.
That’s wonderful!! I checked no luck here.
Enjoy while they last.
Oh wow, Netflix must be on this then. I wonder if they bought a huge chunk of Dramafever’s inventory.
Must be because lot of those were DF exclusives.
Where do we watch our dramas now? The ones I was watching are not on Viki! 🙁
Kocowa has Terius
our issues are the cable shows!
not a legal site but daebak drama has been good to us so far…
Yeah, I am not happy with how they went about closing Dramafever and I feel that they have burn some bridges with their users…particularly since they are trying to create a new streaming service….very stupid thing to do business wise in my opinion. They could have given us some sort of warning which I feel would have gone over much better.
You are absolutely right. Even if ATT/warner brings a site I won’t subscribe. I will stick to Viki and Netflix.
Beside DramaFever, i also go to Netflix and Viki Rakuten app to watch kdramas. As for websites i go to daebakdrama dot com and kissasian dot ch. My sister watch her kdramas on Viu, its just that i cant download that app to watch kdrama there coz its not availabal here in US. I hope this helps. 😊
Dang! Im halfway to Tomorrow With You then DF disappears! They dont have it in VIKI 😭. I guess i have to watch the rest in daebakdrama or kissasian. 😪
So since df closed up, where will we watch 100dmp now? At least we have your recaps.
That is the big question! At least tvN releases a lot of clips on their YouTube page.
Dramacool drama go
OMG! I am still in shock about DramaFever closing. The way this was handled was shameful. Warner Bros. is not a “fly by night” company, they had time to notify customers about the plans to close the site. Anyway, the remaining legal streaming services for Korean dramas are:
Not every streaming service is available worldwide, so you will need to go to each site to see if it is available for your country and what dramas are available to you. I know VIU has 100 Days My Price and Third Charm. Viki has Room. No. 9, The Player, and Two Lives,One Heart/Heart Surgeons. Kocowa has Terius and Two Lives,One Heart. If a drama is not available in your country from a legal streaming service, including older dramas (like Goblin) then you can try these “other sites”. I know Dramacool has 100 Days My Prince, Third Charm, and Terius.
Fast Drama: http://fastdrama.se/
Before you click on KissAsian, be very, very, very sure of your Internet Security.
Oh, this is good to know.
Thanks so much. good to know. we tried so hard to be legal, but they made us do this. THEY did this to US!
A lot to say about this so I’ll spread it out in multiple posts. When Warner Bros. purchased DramaFever in early 2016, Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy at Warner Bros., noted that “they [DramaFever] have technology and experience in building over-the-top-services.” (Wall Street Journal, Feb 23, 2015. At the time, DramaFever had a business unit deveoted to developing streaming services for other networks and platforms.
The Hollywood Reporter (on October 16, 2018) notes that “Warners bought the business…and turned it into the technological backbone for its other streaming businesses…” A statement from Warner Bros. Digital Networks on October 16, 2018 said that “Warner Bros. Digital Labs, which encpmpasses more than two-thirds of the DramaFever workforce, will continue opperating, serving as the tech engine behind many of WBDN’s operations”.
In other words, DramaFever’s value to TimeWarner (and AT&T overall) was its technology, not its content/platform.
There were multiple factors behind this decision. Not directly stated by Warner Bros., but likely a key factor in their decision, is their recent announcement to develop a Netflix competitor to begin streaming in late 2019. It is likely that most of the staff in their Digital Labs will be focused on developing this platform.
One stated reason for the shutdown is “the rapidly changing marketplace for K-Drama content.” There is ample evidence that the marketplace has changed in the last year or so. The three major Korean broadcast networks together launched their own subtitled service for the international market (Kokowa). Then Viki, DramaFever’s only direct comptetior, inked an exclusive deal to stream Kokowa content for its premium customers. And finally, Netflix began accquiring more Korean dramas as part of its overall push to add more international content. Netflix has deep pockets and can clearly afford high-end Korean Dramas, even subsidising their production costs in some cases (in one example, the recently airing “Mr. Sunshine”).
I think it is worth noting that Warner Bros. had other options. The company’s VRV streaming service, which focuses on anime and sci-fi, already included DramaFever content as one of its “channels.” DramaFever could have lived on as a brand that was integrated into VRV. Content accquisition could have continued, at a lower scale, perhaps picking up more of the lesser-known shows that Viki, Kokowa, and Netflix didn’t have. In fact, DramaFever content is still available on VRV as of this morning (October 17, 2018), although new content has not been added for the last several days (prior to the shutdown, DramaFever and its VRV channel featured several shows that are currently airing in South Korea).
So what are the consquences for consumers? There are many and they stretch the loss of DramaFever as a streaming service.
1) Less (legal) availability of subtitled Asian TV shows shortly after airing in Asia (this includes Chinese and Taiwanese TV shows featured on the platform and its competitors as well). One of DramaFever’s strengths, due to their strategy of hiring professional translators, is that subtitled shows were available very quickly on the platform. Since Viki depends on volunteer translation teams, it will often be several days before English subtitles are available on the platform. In addition, despite making exceptions for highliy anticipated shows (like the recent Mr. Sunshine and the Chinese remake of Meteor Garden) Netflix’s primary model is still to wait and release entire seasons after they have aired on broadcast or cable networks, the same as they do with American television.
2) More shows falling through the cracks and not being licensed internationally. Viki has a primary commitment to Kokowa’s shows. Netflix is going to focus on the shows that have big viewing potential internationally. I anticipate less (legal) availability of subbed smaller-budget cable network shows. In the short term, at least, Viki and Netflix will pick up the ones with the greatest viewing potential.
3) Ramifications beyond DramaFever. Couldn’t Warner Bros. use similar reasoning to shut down Crunchyroll (its animee service, which is also included in VRV)? How about the VRV service alltogether, so that the resources directed at it can be utilized for building the new service? What happens to Viki if Kokowa, or a group of Korean cable channels, signs an exclusive deal with a service like Netflix?
Clearly the future direction that the big media conglomerates are headed are large streaming services that have exclusives to their own content, as Disney/ABC is launching one as well as Warner Bros. All these companies want to build a Netflix competitior (and it is certainly possible that these platforms will include some subtitled international content, although it will be only skimming off the top like Netflix does).
Hulu, who hasn’t focused as much on original programming as Netflix or Amazon Prime, will loose as much of its content is pulled off the service by companies that own and/or produce the content, like Disney/ABC and Warner Bros.
Consumers loose as the content they were once able to watch on two or three streaming services (Netflix, Hulu and perhaps Amazon Prime) is now spread across several more services.
Niche content platforms such as those who feature international content loose as they are shut out of the content licensing process, or are accquired for pieces of their company and then dismantled.
Thanks so much for this. Very detailed thinking there. I worked in a media company (on demand streaming) for 6 years and hence this area is a lot of interest to me.
I was not familiar with VRV service. If they eventually wanted to port the DF users to their new streaming service they could have ported the users to VRV and gave access to old DF content until their subscription expired.
May be it was too much work or a hassle.
If they don’t plan to include ‘Asian’ content in future this makes sense.
But alienating their whole asian subscriber base (by closing DF with no notice) doesn’t make any sense to me.
yes, everyone wants to be a Netflix competitor.
” What happens to Viki if Kokowa, or a group of Korean cable channels, signs an exclusive deal with a service like Netflix?”
yes, this is a possibility. Terrifying option, but highly probable.
This is excellent. Thank you so much for explaining it all.
Their VRV app (WB Digital/AT&T owned) only supports what DF already has available and not anything new has been uploaded. I also checked my Amazon Prime Video Channel, and although it does list all their content, it is no longer available for streaming as the servers are already down.
It is so hard to believe that they left a company like Amazon in the lurch.
I used to have Netflix, and I thought it was Not satisfactory for Asian dramas. I quit my Hulu subscription, too, but they always used to have some Asian shows (also not fully satisfactory but better for Korean shows and awful for Japanese unless you want slightly old anime). Unfortunately, I’m under the impression that Hulu is somehow allied with DF. I don’t know for sure though.
The only option that people are left with really is watching illegal uploads. Although I know it is not necessarily a good thing to do, that is how I watch because I simply cannot afford a subscription to anything (I’ve had a very tough year moneywise). For those of us who cannot pay, sometimes we just have t do the best we can.
I keep a list of more than a dozen streaming sites that I use; some of them are quite good, others are rife with malware. I’d warn people who are searching around for sources to use caution–one of the more popular sites is loaded with intruders and very dangerous. Although I could make suggestions about which sites are best, I’d rather not anger those who stand strong for legal sites because I do understand and respect their viewpoint.
The remaining legal streaming sites are: Viki, Kocowa, VIU, Netflix. They are not available in every country so you will need to go to each site to see if it is available to you and what dramas they have because that changes with each countyr as well. Terius is on Kocowa. 100 Days My Prince and Third Charm is available at VIU. If you can’t watch a drama in your country through a legal streaming site, including older dramas (like Goblin) you can try these “other ” sites: Dramacool, Fast Drama, Kissasian dot sh, Dramanice. I saw 100 Days My Prince and Third Charm on Dramacool.
On Demand Korea as well, though they take a while with their subs.
If you want to watch a DF show that has already aired, check to see if it is on VRV (at least where it is available). You might need to do the premium free trial or pay for a month.
Yes, I went to VRV website and the older, finished dramas and movies and still available to watch for free with ads. For now, anyway. They may remove the DF channel.
This is really good insight. I wonder if they really are just going to shelve a lot of shows and reopen them on
They are also available as a channel (extra $) on Amazon Prime Video. But again, no one knows for how long.
I am trying to track down other sources for subbed versions of currently airing dramas that were on DramaFever but not Viki. I just checked Viu using a VPN and they have “The Beauty Inside” but not “Devilish Joy” which I am trying to locate as well.
How do you check viu with a vpn? I’ve tried it & still it shows me content in my region only, which does not include currently airing Korean dramas.
It might be the vpn you are using. Google “NPR VPN” they did a show on legit ones to use. You have to be careful with some of them.