AMC And Bertelsmann Back Asian Video Startup DramaFever

Back in March, video startup DramaFever announced that it had raised a $4.5 million Series B from MK Capital and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, among others. Now the company has added some big media companies to the round, including AMC Networks and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (part of German media giant Bertelsmann AG).

The extra money brings the Series B to $6 million and DramaFever’s total funding to $7.8 million. The other new investors are NALA Investments (which manages investments for the Diez Barroso Azcarraga family, founders of Televisa and Univision), Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise, and CEO Matt Coffin. Former Fox TV chairman Sandy Grushow is also joining as an advisor.

DramaFever co-founder Seung Bak said the additional funding is mostly strategic, tying the company to potential partners for its future growth. Those growth plans include expanding the types of content that it’s bringing to North American audiences — going beyond Asian TV shows to Latin American shows (telenovelas), Asian pop music videos, and Bollywood movies.

I asked Bak about the competitive landscape, specifically how DramaFever stacks up against ViKi, an international video site with funding from Andreessen Horowitz, BBC, and Greylock. He positioned DramaFever somewhere between a site like ViKi (which, for example, crowdsources its subtitles to the community) and more “mainstream” service like Netflix or Hulu.

“It’s an open market,” Bak said. “We just see tremendous opportunity here. ViKi’s doing interesting things; we’re sort of focusing on the premium end.”

And while Bak has described DramaFever as a replacement for the VHS tapes that can be purchased in Asian supermarkets (something I remember from my own childhood), the company also claims that 75 percent of its viewers are not of Asian descent. Traffic is supposedly up 400 percent since early 2011.