Surprise! It’s KOCOWA!

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Is it the end of the Kdrama World as we know it or will KOCOWA provide us with even more variety, more accurate subtitles, and faster access to the dramas we love?  If you have been fretting and worrying about the impact of KOCOWA, then sit back and read. Kdrama Jen is here to answer all of your burning questions about this new streaming site from “The Big Three” drama stations in Korea..;a1

First, WHAT is KOCOWA?

If you are like us, it probably snuck up on you.  It seems we started to hear the buzz only a few weeks ago, yet it has been in the works for a while.  KOCOWA stands for “Korean Content Wave.”  Make sure you spell it correctly.  If you transpose the letters, then you will find yourself on a Polish website warning you about a rather nasty disease.  Not that any of us know that first hand or anything…  So, enough about that, let’s demystify KOCOWA.  It is, in essence, a streaming service developed by the three largest broadcasters: KBS, MBC, and SBS and managed by KCP Global in Los Angeles, California. This trio of broadcast networks set this in motion in November, 2016.  I think that was definitely news to the Fangirls.  We seriously devour every bit of Kdrama information, so the fact that this new service surprised us is…well…surprising!  

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How much is it?

This new streaming service has a multi-level pricing plan.  For $69.99 per year (that’s $70 minus a penny), you can have access to all content without commercials.  It includes a discount for two months (which means you save the cost of two months worth of service by paying the yearly rate instead of the monthly rate) and you also get “surprise gifts.”  (Please note the number of times the word “surprise” is used.)  You can also pay monthly.  The monthly price is $6.99 per month.  This gives you unlimited access to uploaded content (but, apparently, no surprise gifts).  There is also a daily rate of $0.99 per day.  Just a word of advice.  If you plan to watch a whole drama, unless you can set aside the time for a dramathon, then you are going to need to at least splurge on a full month.  For point of reference, 99 cents per day would cost you $361.35 for a year, or $291.36 MORE than a yearly subscription. You can take or leave this advice, but this is Kdrama.  One day will never be enough. Don’t fool yourself.  There is one other possible option.  With a free account you can access “Taste24HR.”  This gives you access free of charge for 24 hours after an episode airs in Korea.  I am trying this option right now.  I had to reprioritize my viewing schedule because after the first 24 hours the episode is locked, but if it is a show you would be anxiously waiting for anyway, then I think this is a viable option.  This quick taste within the first day has advertisements at the beginning of the episode, but the ones I tested did not interrupt my drama with ads.  You can also watch shows labeled “AVOD” (Advertisement Video on Demand) without an account, but these shows will have advertisements.  I wasn’t surprised by this because part of its cute little acronym stands for “advertisement.”  It was, however, difficult to determine which ones are free and which ones are locked. I did find “Shopaholic Louis” was one of the “AVOD” dramas.  If you haven’t watched it, I definitely recommend it. The price is right! It’s always good to have options.

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So, what does KOCOWA have that other sites don’t?

Well, this is an interesting question…  It should really be phrased, “What WILL they have that other sites won’t?”  Since this is a streaming site offered by the three main broadcasting stations in Korea, then it stands to reason that they will have the newest released shows from MBC, SBS and KBS.  This likely means that other sites will either not have these shows or will have more limited access to them.  They also claim they will have professionally translated subtitles and shows will be available about 6 hours after they air in Korea.  For any of us with the habit of “sub stalking” this sounds like a very impressive turnaround time.  That means if you are in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in the USA, then a drama that airs in Korea at 10:00 p.m.on August 10th will theoretically be available by 4:00 a.m. Korean time on August 11th.  However, with the time difference it would really be available on August 10th in that Pennsylvania town in the USA at 4:00 in the AFTERNOON.  What wild sorcery is this?  It’s like finding a subway that can travel through time.  Right.  So, anyway, if they can deliver on this promise, then that will be awesome.  But, will it be awesome enough to be your ONLY streaming service?

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What will other sites have that KOCOWA likely will NOT have?

So, the real question people want to know is what should they do about their other drama streaming services.  Should they cancel them and just subscribe to KOCOWA?  Well…that depends.  Do you only watch dramas from the Big Three?  If so, then KOCOWA is going to work just fine for you.  However, if you like TVN, OCN, and JTBC dramas, then you should probably hold off on cancelling your other services.  Also, if you have jumped down the rabbit hole of Chinese dramas or Taiwanese dramas, then your other subscription services will still be the place to get your fix.  In fact, I predict that these other services will move to expand their offerings in these other areas to compensate for the loss of the other shows.  This is just a prediction, but it certainly makes good business sense.  In other words, if you are an avid drama watcher, then in order to maintain access to the variety of dramas you currently love, you may find you will need to subscribe to KOCOWA plus another streaming service.

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Is it worth it?

So, those are the basics, but what about the details?  We know they have an app for IOS and Android, and they say they should have access for Smart TVs within two months: they are starting with Chrome Casting and Apple TV.  But, we still have questions!  So far, I don’t love the layout or that I have to register devices, so I can’t have a drama playing on my computer and one on my phone.  I know that seems greedy, but we are now a drama watching family, so sometimes other family members are watching different dramas at the same time or even the same drama but some downstairs and some upstairs.  I also find that I miss the 15 second rewind button and I really want a Roku app!  I am willing to keep an open mind, though.  I remember when the other streaming sites were just getting started and it took a while for all of the features to fall into place and for everything to run smoothly.  Stay tuned for the Fangirls’ review next week as we set out to rate the following features: quality of content (both paid and unpaid), quality of subtitles, turn around time between airing and upload with subs, ability to access on multiple platforms, overall ease of use, and customer service.  We will do our best to put this new service through its paces and then report back with the good, the annoying, and any surprises!

If any of our readers have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.  We will be happy to answer them, or if we can’t, we will contact the KOCOWA representitive we have been in contact with and try and find the answers.

Until next week…

Kdrama Jen

 

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0 thoughts on “Surprise! It’s KOCOWA!

  1. I sent an email like the nano-second I found the site – when all I had done was register thru Facebook – for it to get on ROKU 😀 I of course promptly bought a year’s subscription, knowing full well that if these are the 3 networks DOING this, KOCOWA will be getting exclusive rights to THOSE dramas LOL Of course I have no intention of giving up any of my OTHER streaming sites LOL (except Crunchyroll – I may at last admit that I’ve only watched one anime on there this year & give it up)

  2. No thank you..id rather wait for free dramas even its a long wait..im not in a hurry to watch and im just taking my time in slow…as of now some of my fav dramas are out in the market for free and im enjoying watching them one by one…..

  3. seems it’s for US only? anyway not available in my country, so don’t even need to think about it ha! I am curious though what the surprise gifts are? what can they give you; if you have already paid for a year? 😉

    • They said it is currently available only in North and South America, but they would like to expand. I am also curious about the surprise gifts! I have only signed up for a free account, but I will likely purchase a yearly membership. I will let you know about any gifts once I am a paying member. In the meantime, I invite any of our readers to chime in if they already subscribed and received any goodies! If it is Lee Jong-suk wrapped in a bow, then I am subscribing today!

  4. It’s both odd and disappointing that the entire write-up omits any mention of the extreme geographical exclusivity of the new service and assumes all readers are in the only countries it is currently targetting. My understanding is that so far it’s ONLY the US and (possibly) Canada, not even Sth America yet. That’s the sort of information that a detailed analysis really ought to have included

    • You are correct. I did add that in the comments, and it will definitely be examined in our review next week. For now, I just wanted to answer some of the main questions people were asking. In the FAQs on the KOCOWA site it says they are available in North and South America. It is still too early to evaluate how much of North and South America that includes, as well as what this means for the rest of the Kdrama-viewing world. We have only heard they hope to expand… I am sorry I don’t have a better answer. As Kdrama enthusiasts, we are very aware that there are many viewers from countries around the world, and engaging in conversations from multiple perspectives is part of what makes our collaborative experience of watching and discussing dramas so enriching. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. We will do our best to investigate more thoroughly.

    • In order for us to offer a more diverse perspective, would you be willing to comment as part of our review of the service next week on any changes (if any) to availability of dramas outside of the Americas as a result of this new service? We would love to include how this might impact viewers around the world!

      • I will be happy to, as fart as I am able. But since my country is already blocked from almost all Korean Drama supppliers, with only limited access to one of them (viki), the specific degree of change here is likely to be “none at all”. It may be more instructive to seek comments from those in markets which ARE currently served by other providers.

  5. Hmmmm. I don’t really like that they’re run by the big 3. It feels like they’re already starting to cut out Viki and DF from getting any shows. Which is their right, I guess, but I still don’t like it. Oh, well.

    Thanks for the write-up, it clarified a lot of stuff for me.

  6. Since you are in touch with a rep one-on-one are you able to pass along your functionality improvement suggestions to them? I watch via Roku. I downloaded the free app and will definitely pay for yearly content once they get going and at least add Chromecast but, hopefully, Roku.

  7. I don’t want to overstate my connection. I simply emailed my questions and a real person responded. This is an option open to any Kdrama fan. I encourage everyone to share their feedback and concerns. It is a business venture, so they have an interest in responding to their target audience.

    • Being always proactive, I already commented on their FB page requesting Roku. I’ll see where I can contact them through the app or website and take action over there as well. 🙂

  8. I am thinking (and hoping) that the licensing to DF and Viki won’t stop. I would think they might delay airing, but they don’t have to license them to Kocawa. as they own it. So then they wouldn’t get the licensing fees. What I suspect is though, more costly licensing fees, so subscriber rates might go up.

  9. This sounds a bit like a trial balloon for owning a network in North America. Only, I don’t think the Big 3 are flexible enough to make it happen. I envision some Korean executives saying, “Hey, why don’t we set up our own streaming services so we can control all the content!” Only, that’s not how broadcasting (even for premium channels like HBO) works in the US. Once you open the Hallyu box, you can’t close it anytime you want. Fan channels, Daily motion channels, Facebook pages and even Tumblr pages will continue to give reviews as well as content. Also, very few viewers are there for just Korean dramas. I watch Thai, Chinese and Philippine shows in addition to Korean dramas. I don’t want to lose those as well.

    Please eep us in the loop on your experience. Until I see more, though, I’ll keep my Viki and Dramafever accounts because they can prove more than just Korean drama.

  10. Forgive my long winded rant in advance:
    I noticed that Viki has lost a great number of drama licenses lately, some less than 4 years old, like My Love from the Stars and Angel Eyes. WTH! I think 50% of Viki’s Korean content just got trashed. Some of us like to go back and watch classics. Plus, what about newbie K-drama viewers who weren’t around to see older shows?

    Also, the dual subtitle availability on Viki is the most awesome thing ever for language learning. Will Kocowa have that feature? Doubt it.

    Who are the “Professional subbers” that Kocowa will employ, and can they give us accurate subs with explanations of local idioms like the Viki volunteers usually did? Another question: How many subbers will it take to be able to get every episode out within the 6-hour timeframe and still have some level of quality?

    I do like the ability to choose to watch a show on Roku or Chromecast (have both) and I think that Kocowa will eventually get those capabilities. If they don’t–well, they’re just stupid to ignore their customers.

    Also, I wonder what happened to all the non-English subtitles that Viki provided? I feel horrible for the work those subbers put in so those who don’t speak English can enjoy K-dramas too. If I was a French/Italian/German/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-own-language speaker I’d be royally ticked off right now.

    I’m not in favor of this. I already have DF and Viki subscriptions, and I added ODK this year because I can get legal subs for the occasional daily drama I want to watch. (Don’t judge me!) Yeah, I know I am spoiled….I whine because 2 months of local cable TV (which I don’t have anymore) is equal in cost to an entire year of DF, Viki and ODK subscriptions and it’s really not that much money for the enjoyment I get. But still, I feel ripped off. Hey Kocowa–I don’t want ‘surprise’ gifts. I want some transparency and honesty instead.

  11. It would certainly be a good idea for the other sites to try to get more licenses from other countries like China or Thailand now that their Korean intake will be lessened. I’m not fussed about any of this though because I’ll quite happily use illegal sites to get what I want if it’s not available legally, but I have signed up to Kocowa for now and I’ll use it while I live in Canada. When I move back to Aus or the UK, I’ll switch back to Viki or elsewhere.

    • I’m in Alaska, not optimal internet speed at all…I already use apps thru Roku, don’t want to spend $$ for Apple TV box. Illegal sites have made my laptop inoperable previously, not to mention legal or illegal, without using the Roku streaming is so slow you are buffering half the time. Kocowa says they are working on an app, so I hope they do soon. My kdrama is way down as I’m fairly choosy about my dramas and there are a lot of dopey ones out lately. I’m still wondering about the financial decision to cease gathering licensing fees and becoming the main streaming site…

  12. They would like to expand to other regions? I’ll believe it when I see it 😛

    I’m a native Polish speaker and I have no idea what disease is spelled similarly to KOCOWA, but maybe that’s a good thing (or is the name of the website unrelated to the disease?) 😉
    However, there’s a word “kocówa” which means “to beat someone who’s rolled up in a blanket (so she/he won’t see who’s beating her/him)” and I can’t get this picture out of my mind…

    • The Polish site came up when I google “kowcowa.” It links to a research article on an STD. My Polish is a little rusty, although I did spend two summers in Krakow while in college. Sageuk’s always show people being thrashed while rolled in a blanket. I now have a word for it!

  13. This took me completely by surprise, lol. I only learned about it today! I really appreciate the info you girls gathered. It’s very helpful and will help me in making a decision on whether or not I’ll sign up for the service. However, if most of the Kdramas start going to KOCOWA then yeah I’ll most likely be signing up. Anticipating more of your upcoming info on KOCOWA! 😀

  14. I just received a reply from KOCOWA re when they will have an app for Roku. Get this….2018 !!! WTH? I thought they were pretty techie over there in Korea…this is pathetic. And just when in 2018? January 1….or December 31 or what?

    • That is a definite detractor for me. I love being able to watch them on my television with the Roku app. Maybe they have not done enough market research to know that the Roku-thing is kind of a big deal.

  15. I have a question, how is this going to affect the other streaming sites like kissasian etc? Are the new dramas that air on these channels not going to be available there? Because a huge number of fans don’t live in the us and don’t have access to most of the content on viki or dramafever so we rely on these websites, do you know anything about this?

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