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The Hulu of international entertainment gets support from major media and tech giants
If you’ve never watched a Mexican telenovella, you should. They’re pretty addictive. Of course, if you don’t speak Spanish, they might be difficult to follow—usually the dramatic music lets you know what’s going on. One company, DramaFever, wants to make it easy for English-speaking audiences in the U.S. and Canada to follow popular TV shows from around the world, and the startup announced Monday that it has completed a $6 million round of financing. The company raised $1.5 million in addition to the $4.5 million raised in March.
The international online video platform has a pretty straightforward goal: to universalize good entertainment, whether it’s TV, movies, or music. The company got its start translating and distributing Korean dramas, which are pretty scarce in the U.S. if you don’t have premium cable (I’m a basic cable gal, myself). DramaFever became the first online U.S. company (located in New York City) to partner with all three major Korean broadcasters.
The company has since gone on to partner with Hulu and more than 60 other networks and producers across seven countries.
DramaFever currently only carries titles from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines, but it says it plans to expand its library to offer titles from Latin America and Bollywood.
It would seem likely that the bulk of DramaFever’s audience would be immigrants and/or second-generation native speakers, but interestingly, the company says that 75% of its audience consists of native English speakers of non-Asian descent. DramaFever currently sees about two million unique visitors per month, and that’s after adding half a million viewers just since March.
Launched in 2009, the site’s traffic is doubling every six to eight months and is currently up 400% since 2011.
That might be due to the fact that all of the content is completely free. DramaFever has followed Hulu’s lead in offering an online video service that pays for itself through advertisements. For viewers that want the luxury of commercial-free viewing, there’s a paid subscription service that starts at $9.99.
This funding round was joined by an elite cast of media giants, including AMC Networks, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, and NALA Investments, the investment branch of the family that founded Univision and Televisa. Additionally, co-founder and CEO of Machinima Allen DeBevoise and LowerMyBills.com founder and CEO Matt Coffin (who spoke at last week’s Vator Splash LA event) also participated in the round.
“We’re fortunate to have attracted such a strong, diverse group of investors comprised of media powerhouses and individuals regarded as those on the cutting-edge of online video” said co-founder Seung Bak, in a statement. “DramaFever is enabling foreign content creators to cross borders and more easily identify new North American markets for their programming where consumer interest is strong and more likely to add revenue, and it’s not hard to imagine what’s coming soon.”
The company previously raised a $4.5 million Series B round that was led by MK Capital, with participation from YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, Badoo COO Benjamin Ling, and Stubhub founder Jeff Fluhr.
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