By Sahil Patel
DramaFever, most commonly known as an online video service that offers access to international programming from regions like Asia and Latin America, is debuting its first original series this week. Via a co-production deal with Korean studio Hwa & Dam Pictures, “Heirs,” a new multi-language drama about a group of privileged high school students who are groomed to take over their families’ businesses, will be exclusively available on DramaFever in the US, Canada, and Latin America.
The show, which runs for 20 episodes, will first debut on the Korean TV network. For each week following, SBS and DramaFever will air two consecutive episodes over the course of 10 weeks.
DramaFever holds exclusive online distribution rights for the show in North and South America, and online syndication rights to platforms like Hulu and Netflix.
In the past several years, multiple online video services have ventured into offering original programming, from Netflix and its Emmy-nominated lineup to services like Hulu and the Sony-owned Crackle. Each of these services are developing TV-like and TV-length programming. The only thing that really sets them apart is that the content is available on a digital platform, accessible via multiple screens.
DramaFever is also now looking to join that pack. “In the coming months, and certainly into 2014, we’ll be developing and co-producing more original, made-for-web and broadcast-level programming,” said Suk Park, DramaFever co-founder and co-CEO, in a statement.
“Heirs is written by Kim Eun Sook (“A Gentleman’s Dignity”) and stars Lee Min Ho (“Faith,” “Boys Over Flowers”) and Park Shin Hye (“Flower Boy Next Door,” “Heartstrings”).
The co-production deal comes on the heels of DramaFever’s recent first-run, international syndication deal with Fuji TV, one of the largest TV networks in Japan. Under the terms of that deal, DramaFever has exclusive online rights to distribute titles such as “Switch Girl,” “Future Diary,” and “Last Cinderella,” and syndicate them to third-party platforms like Hulu and Netflix.
Interestingly, DramaFever and Fuji TV are also partnering to simultaneously broadcast the premiere of Japanese drama “Clinic on the Sea” on October 18, further blurring the lines of what is considered to be TV and what is not — at least internationally.
DramaFever currently reaches six million monthly uniques, who collectively watch over 14,000 hours of content on the service.