Warner Bros. Shutting Down Korean Streaming Service DramaFever

Dramafever_HP_Screengrab - H 2016
Courtesy of DramaFever

Dramafever_HP_Screengrab - H 2016

About 20 percent of the staff will be laid off as part of the shutdown.

DramaFever has lost its heat. 

Warner Bros. is shutting down the streaming service, which specializes in Korean dramas and other international fare, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

The nine-year-old subscription business, which Warner Bros. acquired in 2016, had been part of a multi-pronged streaming effort by the studio that also included the classic movie service FilmStruck and the recently launched DC Universe. 

"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," the company said Tuesday in a statement. "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."

When DramaFever first launched, it was one of the few outlets, especially for viewers in the U.S., that offered access to a robust library of Korean soap operas and other Asian programming. But in the years since, Netflix and Amazon have both made big pushes into the international market, driving up prices for content that previously could be acquired on the cheap. A search for "Korean drama" on Netflix currently yields dozens of results.  

Warners bought the business, which had been providing streaming technology for services like AMC's Shudder, two years ago from Japan's Softbank and turned it into the technological backbone for its other streaming businesses as part of Warner Bros. Digital Labs. Those employees will continue in their roles servicing Warners' streaming brands, but a source familiar with the plans says that about 20 percent of the DramaFever team, which is based out of New York, will be laid off as part of the shutdown.

DramaFever, which offered an ad-supported product and a $5-per-month ad-free product, had a library of 13,000-plus episodes of programming from 12 countries. 

The shuttering of DramaFever comes a week after WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey revealed plans to launch a subscription video bundle that would offer programming from across the AT&T-owned company's portfolio of brands.