SoftBank has just announced that they will acquire Korean TV streaming service, DramaFever, for an undisclosed amount. DramaFever is a five-year-old Korean startup that streams global TV shows and movies online. The company was founded by brothers Hyun and Suk Park which also raised series A funding from SoftBank in 2013. DramaFever has raised a total of over $12 million altogether, since founding.
This is the second major acquisition of a Korean online TV distribution platform, after Rakuten (also Japanese) acquired Viki for $200M last December. It shows that Korean TV content still hsa serious buying power, as the 'Korean Wave' rocks on.
As well as Korean content DramaFever also includes 700 titles and over 15,000 episodes of global content which is made available to users worldwide using subtitles. Founders Suk and Hyun found that Korean content resonates with audiences across the world, in a global social phenomenon known as 'Halyu,' the spread of Korean pop culture globally. The company has deals with Hulu and Netflix, and has deals with over 70 media publishers.
Softbank has clearly been impresed with the growth of the company, saying in a statement: “In five short years since going live, DramaFever has built an impressive internet-based streaming video business operating at scale. [Co-founders] Seung Bak and Suk Park have a proven business model in a dynamic industry, and we look forward to helping them bring their highly popular video content to an even larger global audience.”
As reported on TechCrunch, SoftBank has been trying to make in-roads into the movie and TV industries, and also recently made a bid to buy DreamWorks for $3.8 billion. These ambitious initiatives have been led by Nikesh Arora, a former Google exec who recently joined as head of the newly formed SoftBank Internet and Media business unit.
DramaFever Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Seung Bak, said, "We have deep respect for Chairman Masayoshi Son and we are thrilled to be joining SoftBank at a time when Nikesh Arora will be leading a bold new venture for SIMI. Having operated as a young independent company to date, we believe we are positioned for unprecedented growth with the benefit of this new strategic partnership."
DramaFever Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Suk Park, added, "This is a triumphant day for our content partners who have demonstrated that engaging stories and characters transcend languages and borders. It is also a great day for our viewers, who can continue to expect DramaFever to bring them the best series and movies from around the world. With the support of SoftBank, we will be further empowered to curate the content that our increasingly global audience of young, passionate viewers loves."
At this stage no one has announced the value of the deal with SoftBank, Recode reported earlier this month that DramaFever was in acquisitions talks with IAC. The price at that stage was reported to have been between $80 million and $140 million.