Am I the only one who has noticed the changes over the last several months in the Asian drama industry? I am sure I’m not since I have seen variations of this topic discussed on every Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook group I belong to. Sometimes, I myself, am the one to bring up the topic (like now) because I am frustrated and just need to find a way to vent. So what I really want to focus on (as focused as a late night rambling can be) is what has happened to the random kaddict now that the drama world has expanded and become much more mainstream. So come join me as I chat Asian dramas, subbing woes, and whatever else comes to mind.
I think we can all point at the major shift in our entertainment world as to when Kocowa and Netflix jumped into the kdrama game. Before then we had Viki and Dramafever which covered around 90% of our subbing needs. Sure, neither of the sites was perfect, but that could be overlooked when it meant getting subs for our kaddiction. But then something happened. The world, which had been in drama ignorance for many many years discovered that Kdramas can make a company money internationally.
Yes, I know that this isn’t exactly a shocker, but when you look at it, many avenues remained closed to subbed content beyond the occasional artistic movie. But now we have billion dollar entertainment industries in China and Korea whose product has become easily attainable (more or less) to the world. The game has changed.
Netflix first began purchasing the rights to various Chinese movies and several Taiwanese and Korean dramas, many of them being web series or idol filled shows with the occasional serious drama thrown into the mix. But this past year we have witnessed a boom in available programming, both Chinese and Korean, on the website. Which is something that I would usually be thrilled about? My introduction to the drama world was Boys Over Flowers on Netflix so I totally understand that kind of venue’s importance. However, Netflix, unlike Viki and Dramafever, has a very different format than the one I prefer. Instead of being able to savor my show the second they pop up, I now find myself having to wait, sometimes months after the drama has completed, for legal subs.
And let me tell you, as a blogger of Asian entertainment, that really sucks. I often write about the here and now programs so when a show airs 5 months past its initial run, there is little interest and I have to choose something current to maintain readership. Have I mentioned how much I hate this? I still have dreams of watching Avenger’s Social Club, but at this point, it is a pipe dream.
But before I get too far into a waiting for Netflix rant, let us change our focus to the new big dog in the drama kennel, KOCOWA. The brainchild of the three main television stations in Korea, KOCOWA decided to pull their content from both Viki and Dramafever in order to create their own streaming site. A streaming site that had all the main three’s content, but for a high price (double what I was paying for either Viki and Dramafever.) To say I was not thrilled would be an understatement, but I decided to embrace the change and subscribe anyway. Only to find out that Viki made a deal with the drama juggernaut to create a premium membership which allowed its users all the content that was available on KOCOWA for a larger sum monthly. Even then, I was like sweet, it is a $1 cheaper to upgrade my Viki pass than it would subscribe to both KOCOWA and Viki. My problems are solved, right? Wrong.
While Viki does indeed have all the KOCOWA content, it is missing one huge thing. The actual KOCOWA subs. Which means that not only am I paying double, but I am paying extra to watch dramas that can go days (and occasionally up to a week) for complete subs. So here I am both significantly poorer and lacking any kind of subbed content to help me forget about my money woes. It is a vicious cycle.
Consequences over lack of content
So, you might think I am whining (which I totally am) and can’t see the bigger picture of having so much more access to available shows. Which, while it might look like there is larger availability at first glance, that is far from the truth. I have found that all these new options have greatly decreased my ability to happily watch my shows. Let me explain…
Before all of these streaming sites were made available I would tell my kbesties and co-bloggers, “let’s watch (insert various drama title and episode #) on this website” We would all head over to the streaming site and enjoy an hour of Asian drama companionship and happiness. But now there are so many hoops to get through before relaxing with a show. First, we have to find out where the drama is airing? Does it actually have legal subs? If we find a place that is legal do we all have access to that specific site? Sure, they might all be under $10 a month per subscription, but when you have to subscribe to 3 or 4 sites, it begins to add up quickly. Not to mention that most of the “legal” sites are now only available to people living in North America so everyone out of that range is out of luck…. at least when it comes to legal content. Then, if there are no legal subs available are we going to check for it on less desirable sites which might have malware? At least half of my closest kbesties won’t watch anywhere that might have dangerous viruses lurking behind every click of the mouse. There are so many reasons why a simple girl’s drama night can’t happen unless we are physically in the same room.
As far as I can see there is really no solution to the current situation. Whichever way I choose, I will be paying higher subscription costs and watching my shows alone. Sadly, this is the way the entertainment industry is and there is no use crying over spilled drama flavored milk. But at least I can take to my blog and complain about the nights where all the must-watch dramas remain unsubbed. Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a sad kaddict who really wanted her Jung Kyoung-Ho fix tonight. Maybe if I pray to the drama gods someone will buy the rights for Prison Playbook and I can forget about the larger problems of the streaming world.
Til my next late night rant,
This is Kmuse signing off