Fresh from announcing a $250 million joint venture with media giant Legendary, SoftBank is increasing its focus on entertainment with an undisclosed deal to buy DramaFever, a five-year-old startup that streams global TV shows and movies online.
DramaFever, which has raised over $12 million in funding from investors that include SoftBank Ventures Korea, isn’t limited to Korean content. Its library includes 700 titles and over 15,000 episodes of global content which is made available to users worldwide using subtitles.
DramaFever has found that Korean content resonates with audiences right across the world, and that has fed in nicely into its own roots in Korea. The company has deals with Hulu and Netflix, which are syndication partners, and claims over 70 media publishers on its roster.
“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,” SoftBank said in a statement.
SoftBank has recently been linked with an audacious bid to buy DreamWorks for $3.8 billion. There’s no doubt that Nikesh Arora, the former Google exec who recently joined the Japanese telecom giant, has big plans for the newly formed SoftBank Internet and Media business unit that he is heading up. DramaFever is an interesting addition, but it seems that we can expect SoftBank to go after more established, household names, too.
Although SoftBank and DramaFever are not disclosing the price for the deal, we are trying to find it and will update as we learn more.
Recode noted earlier this month that DramaFever was in acquisitions talks with IAC, saying that the price was between $80 million and $140 million. If it is true that they were in talks, then that may have influenced the price that SoftBank is paying.
In any case, content is a tough business to monetize. Viki, another online video service from Asia with a focus on global content, burned through a lot of money before being acquired by Rakuten for a reported $200 million. Many sources have suggested that the Rakuten deal actually came at a time when Viki was in the process of raising money, and Rakuten decided that a full-on acquisition would suit better than an investment.
Viki raised more than $40 million before its acquisition.