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Less than a year after acquiring online video site DramaFever for $100 million, Japanese telecom and media giant SoftBank has quietly put the service back up for sale, according to reports.
Citing unnamed sources close to the talks, The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros. and Barry Diller’s IAC are believed to be among the suitors looking at possibly buying a majority stake in the online video company. SoftBank would like to retain a “significant minority stake,” the Journal said.
SoftBank declined to comment on the reports. IAC wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Founded by co-CEOs Seung Bak and Suk Park out of their New York City apartment in 2009, DramaFever saw explosive growth in the years leading up to the SoftBank buyout. The streaming service focuses on Korean and Spanish-language TV dramas in addition to myriad other international TV and movie titles.
Both Warner Bros. and IAC were in pursuit of DramaFever last year before SoftBank closed the deal, according to the Journal.
Aside from its streaming business, DramaFever has developed technology that can power other companies’ subscription video services. Last week, AMC, an early backer of DramaFever, unveiled the horror-themed streaming service Shudder, which is driven by DramaFever’s technology. Amid rising interest in online video, analysts suggested that the current raft of bidders may be eyeing DramaFever’s technology as much as its library and user-base.
For its part, SoftBank could be looking to turn a quick profit after another year of growth in the online video sector, analysts told the Journal. It’s also possible the company is reviewing its interest in entertainment holdings.
SoftBank held high-level talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation last fall, but a deal was never reached. Instead, SoftBank invested $250 million in Legendary Entertainment. According to the Journal, Nikesh Arora, the former Google executive who led SoftBank’s Hollywood buying spree, has shifted his priorities after being promoted to the post of president of the company.
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James Gordon Meek