Now that things have settled into place after the addition of Kocowa, we decided to do an updated review of the site, as well as it’s competitors, so that our readers (as well as ourselves) can find the drama watching plan that works best. So come join us as we chat all the pros and cons between drama streaming sites Kocowa, Viki, Netflix, & Dramafever.
Kmuse: I love how fast the subs are released on Kocowa. It is actually the #1 selling point for me. Especially since Viki’s subbing speed has decreased significantly. With my busier schedule I don’t have the time to wait two or three days for subs. Especially if I am reviewing it for the blog.
Dramarookie: I get to watch Running Man a day earlier now! And I appreciate that they have the Taste24 option where you can watch for free, if you can remember to catch it in the first 24 hours after they release it.
Karie the Maknae: It’s the faster subbing that sold me too. When we were recapping While You Were Sleeping, one of the episode’s subs got delayed on Viki and it was driving me nuts. I took the plunge and haven’t regretted it.
Kdrama Jen: I find myself spending the majority of my time on Kocowa. They sub quickly and the quality of the subs is very good.
Kmuse: I am a huge fan of Chinese dramas as well as Korean. Which means I would still need to use the other sites to get my Cdrama fix. Which of course means more money. The struggle between my drama addiction and funds for that addiction are real.
Dramarookie: Money, money, money, money. (Imagine me singing this to the tune by the O’Jays.) I only have so much of the green stuff. Dramafever and Viki already get their slice and I just don’t want to shell out more for a site that I can’t watch on my Roku. I know they are finally available on Chromecast, but again, buying a new machine would cost money, money, money, money.
Telzeytalks: I agree about the money problem; paying for too many sites is prohibitive. Kocowa is actually rather limited because although it has the three big Korean networks, it doesn’t have the cable shows or any from other countries. So you can’t get everything in one place. I actually watch with other people using Apple TV and a projector, but Kocowa doesn’t support that, so I’m out.
Karie the Maknae: Yes, it’s more money, but I still find $7/month to be reasonable. What bugs me is that my viewing history isn’t readily available, especially on the mobile platform. It’s not that hard to search the show I’m watching and see what I’ve already watched, but I appreciate that Viki and DramaFever already have that front and center for me.
Kdrama Jen: I wish there was an app on my Roku and I think the way the site is organized is not user-friendly. I find myself wasting prime drama-watching-time searching for the next episode. Paying for another streaming site does not make me happy, but even with a subscription to three sites, I still spend less per month on my hobby compared to my friends who golf, pay for a gym membership (I watch while on the treadmill), or collect Precious Moment figurines.
Kmuse: They have a lot of content. Especially when it comes to the newest Chinese dramas. They also have the Kocowa shows available (although you have to pay extra to access this feature.)
Dramarookie: They are the only ones that have almost all the K-dramas now. They’ve really edged Dramafever out by making a deal with Kocowa.
Telzeytalks: I pay for the regular Viki package and there is usually something for me to watch. They have Grand Prince, and they had Just Between Lovers and Hwayugi while they were airing. There are also a lot of Chinese dramas like The Flame’s Daughter.
Karie the Maknae: I like that Viki is keeping up with the current content. They do a great job with the subs and I feel like they’re more accurate — putting in titles like “hyung” and “oppa” instead of calling someone by their name, when that is CLEARLY not what is being said.
Dramarookie (again): Great point, Maknae! It annoys me to no end that Dramafever doesn’t trust the viewers to know what “oppa” means. Even when you first start watching dramas, you pick up things like that pretty quick.
Kdrama Jen: I am also an avid Chinese drama fan, so I like that Viki tends to have more Chinese dramas to explore. I do tend to think Viki subs are more accurate as well.
Kmuse: Slow subs! UGH, I can’t explain how much the slow subs annoy me. And before people start yelling that it is all volunteers I would like to point out that my subscription plan doubled in price which means I should be getting something for my money. Especially since it is double what I spend anywhere else (except for Netflix). To add insult to injury I now can’t seem to get the streaming site to stream in HD. According to the site it says that it streams at the best quality for your internet service. But since I don’t have the same issues with any other streaming sites I call foul. And the fact that they took off the viewers ability to choose their streaming quality makes me suspicious.
Dramarookie: This may be a temporary issue, but I’ve had trouble loading the site this week. Which stinks, since I’m on Spring Break and doing a LOT of binge watching.
Telzeytalks: It is pretty frustrating that there are so many locked shows. You need the upgraded Kokowa version to see most of the new ones like Radio Romance, Should We Kiss First or Mystery Queen 2. You would think that since they are owned by Rakuten, a Japanese company, that Viki would have a lot of Japanese dramas but they don’t. There are not many newer ones – the last one was I Am Reiko Shiratori – and a lot of the old ones are horror shows, which I am not interested in.
Karie the Maknae: It really bothers me that the subbers aren’t getting paid. If the price has increased, then the subbers, who do a phenomenal amount of work, should see some return. It seems to me that since they’re working on a volunteer basis, that’s what slows the subbing down.
Kdrama Jen: I feel like Viki used to sub very quickly. Recently, I have found they have slowed way down. I end up watching some shows when they are not fully subbed. I formally studied Chinese, so I can usually get away with 50% subbed when watching the Chinese shows, but not when they are at 2% for days. I need Korean shows to be at least 80%. I am finding my impulsive nature is causing me to miss some major plot points!
Kmuse: They have increased the amount of Chinese dramas they carry which I like. They also occasionally buy the rights to TvN dramas. They also have a downloading function available if you buy their year subscription. I did this recently and love this added bonus. It makes watching dramas during long boring trips super easy.
Telzeytalks: They have a great backlog of famous older shows and some of the newer ones although not as many. I watched I’m Not a Robot here while it was airing and they have Evergreen, Misty, and Go Go Waikiki. They also have quite a few Chinese dramas like Nirvana in Fire II and Tribes and Empires.
Karie the Maknae: DramaFever will always be my one true love, because that’s where Goblin is. I like their user interface better, and I’m pretty happy with what they have available.
Dramarookie: I like that they have all the old, early episodes of Running Man, aaaaaaand . . . hmmmmmmm. What else?
Kdrama Jen: I think this site is very user-friendly. They tend
to get more TVN dramas, so I keep coming back for those. They also have movies and the ability to download, which makes a few days away from WiFi much more appealing! I also appreciate a convenient Roku app.
Kmuse: Their Korean simulcasting content has suffered greatly since Netflix and Kocowa have entered the picture. They only have one or two kdramas airing at a time. So if this is all you watch than you might be left wanting.
Dramarookie: It’s sad that I couldn’t add more to the Pros section for Dramafever. In the past, it was like the Cadillac of drama providers, even holding their own awards ceremony with Kim Jong Kook. But now their K-programming is almost non-existent. I don’t like C-dramas. The dubbing. The penchant for tragic endings. They just don’t appeal to me. It really feels like DF missed the boat on this one.
Telzeytalks: They aren’t getting as many new Korean shows and they don’t have new Japanese shows, although they do have a couple of famous historicals like Ryomaden.
Karie the Maknae: I’ve noticed that I definitely use DramaFever more for the older shows. If it’s new, I have to go somewhere else.
Kdrama Jen: Subs are slow, the content is not as appealing as it once was, and I am finding the app crashing frequently.
Kmuse: Sometimes it is nice just being able to sit back and binge watch a whole show. Netflix makes this easier than anywhere else and the quality is always top notch. I also appreciate that they are bringing tons of Chinese and Korean movies (and even a few Japanese films) available to the masses. Getting Asian movies legally can sometimes be hard.
Telzeytalks: Netflix tends to provide completed television series. Newer Korean dramas they have are Black and Prison Playbook. My favorite one here would be Stranger.
Karie the Maknae: I like Netflix because I know how to work it! And there are some dramas on there that I haven’t seen offered on other streaming sites. I haven’t watched them yet, so I don’t know if that’s a pro or not.
Kdrama Jen: I like that Netflix is introducing a whole new group of people to Kdramas. My friends are calling me up and telling me about a show they stumbled upon while watching Netflix. That’s pretty cool!
Kmuse: If you are a simulcast viewer like I am, it can be very difficult to wait the three to five months for a drama to show up on Netflix. At least in the US, they like to make us wait for the whole show so it can be binged. Since they have grabbed up the rights to a lot of cable content (TvN, OCN, Jtbc) it can be frustrating.
Dramarookie: Do I have to sing again? Money, money . . . you get the picture. I already pay for two other services and Netflix is one of the priciest. It would be a lot of cash for the few specific dramas that they carry.
Telzeytalks: The Japanese dramas they have tend to be Netflix specials like Dad of Light rather than popular shows from this season. They have some Chinese dramas but the newest ones I saw were The Disguiser and Ice Fantasy.
Karie the Maknae: Netflix was already in my budget, since my whole family uses it. The con would be that I don’t want to pay extra to make it available on two screens. (#firstworldproblems) I hate having to wait for a series to show up too.
Kdrama Jen: I like to watch dramas as they air, so I can talk about them with my friends in Korea. I also have a binge-watching problem, so if the whole series is available, then I will not sleep or be productive.
What we are using personally:
Kmuse: What can I say… I am a total addict and I need it all. Right now I am using all the various services and am happy. My only complaint would be for Viki charging so much for slow subs. It pisses me off whenever I think about it.
Dramarookie: I use Viki and DF, but am still open to change. I hate the thought of dropping DF, but if their Korean content doesn’t pick up, it is still an option. And once Kocowa gets a Roku app their appeal will definitely grow.
Telzeytalks: I subscribe to Viki, Dramafever, and Netflix. I just decided that was enough platforms and I could watch what was available. There are enough older show I haven’t seen that I can enjoy, and wait for new ones to come out when they are finished airing.
Karie the Maknae: I’m just as addicted as Kmuse — I use them all!
Kdrama Jen: I am also a multi-platform user. I subscribe to all of these sites, but Vlive for Kpop content. What can I say? It’s my hobby!
Thanks for joining us for our full review of all the streaming sites. If you are interested in reading our two initial posts on Kocowa then check it out here & here.
Til next time,
Dramas With A Side of Kimchi
12 thoughts on “The Fangirls’ Roundtable: Pros & Cons of the Top 4 Drama Streaming Sites”
If you have Kocowa like I do, & do NOT pay VIKI extra, the content on VIKI is much less than on DramaFever (for KDramas certainly). Eyeopening. VIKI doesn’t use Kocowa’s subs, either, even tho the price for the extra is the same as just subscribing to Kocowa! I’m so happy that I went directly TO Kocowa 😀 They are getting a ROKU station this year & my life will be complete 😀
DramaFever still has more Kdramas than VIKI (as said) and has films as well.
I, needless to say, have all the above, as well as Hulu Plus (they’ve got some Kdramas!).
I also subscribe to all four of these platforms. My pros and cons list would be somewhat similar to what has already been said, but I have to add that while I love the content and subbing on Kocowa, I hate the actual player itself. Not having a rewind button is frustrating, as is the fact that I can’t use it with my Apple TV (the other three all have apps on there which is great). Though, speaking of the Apple TV apps, I do have issues with Viki’s. It doesn’t save my place between devices. It works great on my phone and tablet though. DF I think is the best user interface out of all of them, I just miss the content these days on there. Best player, least amount to watch. Bummer. I find myself usually watching on Kocowa. My daughter loves that one best because of their variety show content. Other sites don’t sub variety as quickly or consistently (or just don’t carry the shows at all), so it’s the main reason we subscribe to it.
It looks to me like Viki is using Kocowa subs now. For Kocowa content they have this coy little line “This show has English subtitles only. Learn More” and if you choose to learn more they say the subs are already included and as they are copyrighted, they can’t provide other languages. That said, they still aren’t very fast. I was interested in the replacement for “My Golden Life”, the video showed up yesterday but the subs still arent there. Same for “My Husband, Mr. Oh!”.
It’s sad in a way. I generally liked the Viki subs. They reliably included song lyrics for instance. But it did bother me that Viki was presumably making good money and the people doing the subs weren’t getting paid.
Waiting for “My Goldern Life” subs was truly excruciating.
If Kocowa had a Roku app, I’d consider it, I’ve found chromecast is too awkward for regular viewing.
I watch on viki, dramafever,and AmazonPrime which has some recent Jdramas. I could get Kocowa but yeah, money, money, money. So i wait the two or three months until viki unlocks the Kocowa dramas
I have found a lot of content on ONDEMANDKOREA that I haven’t found on either VIKI or DRAMAFEVER. I don’t know if this is a legit site, but they also offer subscriptions? I haven’t subscribed, though. Do you have an opinion on them?
I use Chromecast, and find it works very well. You use your laptop or phone app and just cast it onto your tv screen! I believe it was 35.00 for the device that plugs into your tv’s USB port.
It’s a shame OnDemand Korea is not subbing much these days. I liked their subs for the daily dramas. The site is pricey, but I was willing to cough up for legal subs.
Thanks ladies! It’s really great to see info on all the different streaming sites. Right now I have Viki, Dramafever, and Netflix. But unfortunately can’t keep paying for them all, so will soon have to make a choice. 🙁 Your info was very helpful!
Appreciate your thoughts. I personally use KOCOWA, Dramafever, and Netflix. I agree that the user interface for KOCOWA is the least user friendly. At times it is difficult to track down the next episode (unless binging and then it is pretty easy). Still, I think the fact that it is the new kid on the block just means the other services have had time to make the adjustments that KOCOWA will eventually make. They do seem to be adding content constantly with some of it being new stuff that wouldn’t have been shown on other streaming sites.
As someone who is not a fan of C-dramas, I’m unhappy in the amount of them increasing on Dramafever especially as the K-drama content lessens. However, the K-dramas Dramafever has had lately seems to cover the dramas KOCOWA misses (Go Go Waikiki is one I would have hated to miss).
I dislike having to wait for Netflix to air the shows. However, the interface that Netflix has is refined that makes it easy to watch. Maybe it’s just me but one complaint I have with the K-dramas I’ve seen on Netflix is that they tend to use coarser language with their translation. I’m not someone who likes a ton of curse words in their shows and I like that about K-dramas. However, what I don’t know is if the Netflix translation is more correct or if they are just doing that to seem more…edgy? I have worries that the more Netflix influences K-dramas, the less K-dramas will resemble that which drew me to them in the first place.
I use DramaFever and Viki but it is still frustrating that there are dramas that slip through the cracks and are not available legally anywhere such as Age of Youth 2, Woman of Dignity and Live Up to Your Name. Dramafever says coming soon but has been saying that for quite a while now. I prefer Viki’s subs since they are more detailed, include song lyrics and do not translate swear words unlike DF.
I dropped DramaFever but sort of picked it up again by subscribing to another service which includes it (and a whole bunch of other sites) called vrv.co – which saved us money because it was the same price as something else my hubby was paying for (also included there) so it was basically a nice bonus. I paid for a year of Kocowa (enjoying it so far, but agree that the user interface could be improved), and started subscribing to Viki in the short term just because they had some dramas not available elsewhere and I hate adverts. We also have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. My biggest frustration is that Japanese films and series are still thin on the ground regardless of how much money you can throw around. Overall, we probably don’t spend any more than we did when we had cable television… and we get to use Google fiber instead. I now have the opposite problem in the sense that I don’t have time to watch all of these shows >_<
With DramaFever gone, Netflix moving into creating East Asian content that isn’t available on the local stations and IQIYI being a serious contender, and the year coming to an end, maybe it’s time for a review of this review? 🙂
lol. That is an EXCELLENT point. Thank you for bringing it up!