Time Warner deepens OTT options with DramaFever acquisition

News of the sale comes two years after Japanese telco Softbank bought the niche streaming service for $100 million.
February 24, 2016

DramaFever is poised to expand its audience reach following a deal with Warner Bros. to acquire the U.S.-based niche streaming service.

“Nothing is out of the question,” said Seung Bak,  pictured, DramaFever co-founder and CEO, in an interview via email with StreamDaily.

News of the sale comes less than two years after Japanese telco Softbank bought the company for $100 million. Last year, rumors began to circulate that DramaFever was once again on the market. The service offers hundreds of Korean television and film dramas, as well as English-language and other international titles, via subscription and ad-supported platforms.

DramaFever draws about seven million viewers every month across 20 countries, according to a July 2015 Bloomberg report. It’s flagship YouTube channel has slightly more than a million subscribers and has generated 534 million views to date. 

In announcing the deal, Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group, called the streamer “a great fit” for the Time Warner-owned company. Hunegs said the plan is to “rapidly enhance and grow” the service and build new OTT capabilities.

The acquisition follows Time Warner’s company-wide efforts to reach younger audiences who increasingly opt for TV everywhere over traditional offerings. That strategy is behind the recent acquisition of iStreamPlanet and the launch of SVOD services with HBO NOW in the U.S., and, in partnership with Tencent, Hollywood VIP in China.

Bak said there are no immediate plans to change DramaFever’s programming mix, though that could change as the company looks to broaden its audience reach.

“In the future, Warner Bros might have some ideas on how changes to the programming mix that might help attract new subscribers,” he said.

Bak declined to comment further on the sale, saying only, “We are happy to be a part of the Warner Bros. family and look forward to making an immediate contribution to their operations.”

The deal with Softbank is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016. The price has not been disclosed.

DramaFever, while wholly owned by Warner Bros., will continue to operate under the existing brand and remain based in New York. Bak and co-founder Suk Park will continue to oversee the company and report to Hunegs.





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