By Sahil Patel
Streaming video startup DramaFever started out as the exclusive distributor of Korean TV programming in the US. The company has recently expanded to include other types of international content, as evidenced by its recent licensing deal with NBCUniversal’s Telemundo.
According to co-founder and co-CEO Seung Bak, DramaFever is at the forefront of acquiring and windowing international content to the US market. In fact, the company is actively working to create a broad market for this type of programming, which for a long time has been relegated to niche channels by US pay-TV providers.
“We are all about creating new markets for rights-holders,” says Bak. “They partner with us to make it big in America, and we take a thoughtful approach to make it happen, handling everything from marketing to monetization.”
Fundamentally though, Bak recognizes that media is a local industry — even US programmers have trouble breaking into some international markets. It’s why many domestic content creators are more open to digital distribution outside of our borders. And it’s why DramaFever takes a “thoughtful” approach to how it monetizes the blockbuster Asian (and other international) content it has the rights to. “On one hand you want to make it available in a ubiquitous manner,” says Bak, “So in our world, we sort of become the guys who determine what goes where, and when.”
Generally, DramaFever has first-run rights in the US, after which it windows content to other streaming platforms like Hulu, which is ad-based, and Netflix, which pays just once. Selectively, Bak says DramaFever also puts content on transactional platforms like iTunes, and will soon distribute to the likes of Amazon and the Samsung Media Hub. “At some point, we may even put some content on linear channels,” he says.
Overall, it’s dependent on what makes sense for that programmer and that piece of content. Though, Bak’s quick to add: “As a company, we are making a bet that an increasing number of consumers want the authentic experience, as is.”