[News Corner] Dramafever shuts down

This might be the most shocking and saddest news of the year for all drama fans: As of October 16, the American streaming portal Dramafever has shut down without prior notice!

Fans who were in the middle of watching their favorite dramas suddenly only saw a black screen, the app didn’t function anymore and all content suddenly disappeared from Dramafever’s Youtube channel. Everyone was wondering what happened until the following notice appeared on Dramafever’s website:

Screenshot_2018-10-17 Thank you for nine great years

According to the American entertainment website Variety, Warner Bros. who acquired Dramafever in 2016 stated:

“Today, Warner Bros. Digital Networks will be closing its DramaFever OTT service due to business reasons and in light of the rapidly changing marketplace for K-drama content, a staple of the service’s programming. Warner Bros. Digital Labs, which encompasses more than two-thirds of the DramaFever workforce, will continue operating, serving as the tech engine behind many of WBDN’s operations.”

Variety further reports that 20% of Dramafever’s employees will be laid off.

While Viki and Dramafever where the go-to legal streaming sites for Asian dramas in the past, big players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have also started to offer Asian content as of recently. Furthermore, the three big Korean TV channels KBS, SBS and MBC founded a new streaming portal named “Kocowa” for Korean dramas last year. As a result, Dramafever wasn’t able to obtain as many licenses for Korean dramas as before and the costs for the licenses have risen as well. Variety reports that a drama that costed $800,000 before is now acquired for around $1 million.

The news of Dramafever’s shut down comes at the same time as Warner Bros. announces their future plans though: According to another article from Variety, Warner Bros. will launch their own streaming platform fronted by HBO in late 2019. The goal is to battle giant Netflix. Content from Dramafever will reportedly also be offered through this new streaming site.

However, it remains to be seen if all content from Dramafever will be back and if they will also license as much new Asian content as Dramafever did in the past. Fact is, fans will have to be patient and wait a year to see the outcome.

In my opinion, it wasn’t a wise choice by Warner Bros. to shut down Dramafever, and even less so to do so without warning their viewers. They could at least have finished the broadcast of currently airing shows while not licensing any new ones and warned viewers some months before, so that they would still have time to catch up on shows that they wanted to watch. If their goal was to make Asian drama fans so angry that they could die, then they did an excellent job.

Furthermore, a huge number of fans turned to Asian dramas because they’re so different from American TV. Many drama fans don’t even watch American TV at all. Now Warner Bros. wants exactly those people to subscribe to a streaming platform in the future that will mostly offer American content. I believe Warner Bros. doesn’t have a good understanding of Dramafever’s customers when they thought that was a wise choice.

It appears to me that Warner Bros. is simply greedy for more money. When they shut down smaller streaming platforms and offer their content all in one big platform, they can sell subscriptions at a high price due to the variety of content. This means people who only watch Asian dramas will be forced to also pay for American shows and vice-versa.

And on top of all, the shut down of Dramafever is a huge loss for all Cdrama fans. While it can be expected that subs for Korean dramas will still appear in one or another way (through Kocowa, Viu etc.), Viki and Dramafever were the only streaming sites to license Chinese dramas (I don’t count Netflix here since they only have a tiny number of Cdramas as of now). Dramafever regularly licensed and subtitled new Cdramas, and now that they’re gone, there will be much less Cdramas available wih subtitles.

What is your opinion on that topic?


14 thoughts on “[News Corner] Dramafever shuts down

  1. Fishisteve says:

    This is really disappointing also the very smarmy way in which they went about it is indicative to AT&T business practices.The email notice you get if you were a premium member implies it is your own request to cancel your account.Which I find a bit weird.
    Needless to say after all those years DF will be missed.

    • Lili says:

      Did you get a notice? I am also a premium member but I didn’t get anything. I even renewed my yearly subscription a week ago.

      • Fishisteve says:

        Yes,I received a email saying sorry to see you go As if I cancelled my premium subscription.When you click on bring my premium perks back you get their goodbye letter.I wish post the screen shot so you know what to look for.

  2. kassanna says:

    You tube has quite a bit of C-drama’s Navigation is a little hard to get use too but once you find a few shows by searches it will recommend many more. I often use your site to check out the new dramas then search for them on you tube. With out your site to tell me what’s new or upcoming it would be hit or miss. Thankfully I have gotten an opportunity to see quite a few new shows and discovered new you tube channels to keep watching. Sadly after reading your article I can’t trust WB to given me my Asian drama fix.

  3. Lili says:

    This is outrageous! I am watching Age of Legends, how do I finish the drama now?? And I still have Tribes and Empires on my PTW list!

    No wonder Dramafever didn’t license Entrepreneurial Age. I was so sure they would get it *CRY*

  4. Vivianneke says:

    My feeling: … I AM PISSED … even if they had to shutdown they could have done that differently and given some weeks of a grace period just leaving the existing content so that people could finish watching the dramas they were following.

    Do not think that for Kdrama the loss of Dramafever will make a big difference, the content will be picked up elsewhere, it was already clear that with the creation of Kocowa that dramafever had lost the Kdrama battle but with the positive side effect that they were going after more Cdrama.

    I really try to support all the legal ways I can watch Cdrama/Kdrama/Jdrama but the powers to be are not making it easy. Personally I get the paying subscriptions where I can ( although I have to be very creative with VPN software to be able to access the content I want given regional limitations) , this dramafever shutdown will just push more people to the illegal path.
    I read some comments about the dramafever shutdown of people who think that for instance “Kissasian” “won” … bloody idiots do not understand that those sites just steal the dramas and the subtitles and actually do not add anything themselves.

    Do agree with previous comment that I do not think Warner understands the Asia drama US and International viewing audience. By the time that they get their act together the 20 Million Dramafever viewers will have found their way to other sites and for sure they are not interested in other HBO content.
    Pretty poor strategy that they think this is the way they can compete with something so globally established as Netflix on US content stuff …

    Will Cdramabase try to get more translators for Cdramas ? I know that your current network is already very busy on several dramas.
    I for one would be very willing to contribute financially if there are crowdfunding activities for subtitles

    Really hope that “age of legends” gets subtitles on Youtube … dramafever was at episode 24, whilst youtube “Croton Megahit” only got to episode 4…

    • CDB says:

      I of course hope to grow our subbing team so that we can sub more and faster. I have to admit that we are a little bit slow at the moment, but we just started out not even a year ago, so I am positive that things will change in the future. 🙂

      Our team does not consist of professional subbers but fans that sub in their free time (and do a really good job!). This is also one of the reasons we might be slow at times. Nevertheless, subtitling is a huge effort that I believe should be honored, which is why I started the crowdfunding campaign. I am paying the subbers a small amount for every finished episode with the donations we get.

      Our team is very thankful for every support!

  5. Vivianneke says:

    will you pick-up Age of legends from episode 25 first ? or will you start from where the Youtube subtitles stopped (think at ep4)

  6. Table122000 says:

    I am still in shock at the news of the DramaFever shutdown. The way it was handled was shameful and completely unprofessional, to both the customers and staff members. The closing of DramaFever site is a huge loss to the Asian dramawatching community, but especially to Chinese drama fans. I will miss the DramaFever site. I liked their wide selection of dramas, their relatively fast subtitling, their consistency (once they took on a project, you knew it would be completed and in a timely manner), and their quality subtitles. I also liked their News articles and their Dramaclubs, and their You Tube channel. I watched many great dramas and films at DF. DramaFever really helped to introduce mainland China dramas to a wider international fanbase, starting with their first exclusive of Ten Miles Peach Blossom. As to the future, I don’t know. I will agree that eventually K Dramas will recover since there are already several streaming services dedicated to K Dramas who can pick up the slack. I don’t know about C Dramas. There is not as much interest in C Dramas from the streaming services, and China is not really motivated to seek out liscensing deals with foreign countries, unlike South Korea. It’s going to take longer for C Drama to recover from this loss.

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