Warner Bros. announced today that it has signed an agreement with Japanese-based telecommunications giant SoftBank Group to acquire DramaFever, the U.S.-based company that operates the SVOD service DramaFever, which specializes in Korean TV series and films.
SoftBank Group purchased DramaFever in October 2014 after fending off competing suitors that included AMC, IAC and the RTL Group, which were reportedly offering deals worth anywhere from $80 million to $140 million.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016. A Warner Bros. spokesperson declined to comment on the price of the purchase.
Founded in 2009 by Seung Bak and Suk Park, DramaFever has a library of 700 television, movie and music titles, including more 15,000 TV episodes, which are often made available to viewers on first-run, same or next day basis from their original broadcast. Its programming lineup includes titles from CJ E&M, from popular K-dramas to the company’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), as well as short-form originals such as “Never Die” and “Love Detective Sherlock.” It offers both free, ad-supported viewing and a $4.99-a-month commercial-free option that features a selection of exclusive content. DramaFever also syndicates a portion of its library to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes.
Warner Bros. Television Group president of business and strategy Craig Hunegs called DramaFever “a great fit for Warner Bros.,” which is also targeting cord-cutters with recently-acquired iStreamPlanet and the launch of SVOD services with HBO NOW in the U.S., and, in partnership with Tencent, Hollywood VIP in China. Warner Bros. has also been a major investor in gaming-centric multi-platform production company Machinima.
“With Warner Bros.’ resources, we will rapidly enhance and grow the DramaFever channel,” said Hunegs in a statement. “As importantly, we are bringing to Warner Bros. a great and talented team, led by Seung Bak and Suk Park, that will move quickly with our own distribution and creative teams to create and build more OTT services.”
Although DramaFever will be wholly owned by Warner Bros., it will continue to operate under that consumer-facing brand and be based in New York, and Bak and Park will continue to oversee the company and report to Hunegs.