The dramaworld was shocked this morning when they awoke to the news that the streaming company Dramafever was closing its doors for good. Come join us as we discuss the whys, the hows, the rumors, and what our feelings are regarding the whole huge mess.
What happened to DF?
Karie the Maknae: Here’s what I understand–DramaFever was solo until 2016, when it either went into partnership with or was bought by Warner Bros. Fast forward to last summer, when AT&T acquired TimeWarner to create WarnerMedia. Last week, AT&T started acting on this merger and its desires to create an AT&T streaming service to rival Netflix by pouncing on DramaFever. Today, October 16th, they shut down DramaFever, fired 1/3 of the staff, and cut off our access to dramas effective immediately. No warning. The black screen of death that is now DramaFever promises a future email explaining everything, and possible refunds. We’ll see.
Kdrama Jen: Not wanting to believe it, I called, emailed, Facebooked, Tweeted, and called in a favor from a friend in Manhattan to try to figure out why the first streaming service I ever committed to had such cryptic messages on its site. I received a politely worded form letter asking me to please be patient. I have been a paying member since they opened their doors. Haven’t they learned by now that I am NOT patient? I once clicked refresh 47 times in an hour as I waited for Healer episodes to post.
Rumors VS Fact
Two days ago, Dramafever viewers started getting messages that their ongoing shows were being postponed and would be up soon. What did this mean? Why would they do this to us? Don’t they know things were just getting good on Hundred Days My Prince? Rumors started running rampant as everyone started guessing as to what was happening. It even got its own fun hashtag: #DFCon. Little did we know that this was a sign of the end. Makes me kind of wish they really had been hacked like everyone was guessing.
Kmuse: With as popular as Korean & Chinese dramas are with today’s international viewers, I am a bit shocked that they chose to close the door to this site. Back when they lost all their content, thanks to Kocowa, I would have understood. However, in the last month, they had really started getting their groove back. They bought the rights to a ton of new Korean and Chinese content. Things looked like they were going good in the Dramaverse.
MiataMama: There were SO many new dramas starting on DramaFever, this past month! I was beginning to feel like my yearly subscription wasn’t going to waste anymore. So yesterday, I was a little put out when I realized my M/T dramas weren’t getting subbed. But I was trying to be patient. The rumors of a subber strike or a server hacking were things that I was confident I could calmly wait out. Little did I know…
Kdrama Jen: To be honest, if this had happened a few months ago I would have barely noticed. I wasn’t watching too many things on this site. However, with the recent crop of new dramas, I had five different shows I was watching exclusively on Drama Fever. How am I supposed to get my D.O. fix now?
Instead of a small blip in our drama watching schedule, it turned into a giant asteroid of doom as we lost all the legal options for watching hundreds of dramas, including the currently airing Beauty Inside, Hundred Days My Prince, and Devilish Joy.
Kmuse: I am so upset right now I can barely type. This is going down as a dark day in my life.
Karie the Maknae: DramaFever was my gateway into Kdramaland. I can hardly believe this is happening and in a such an unprofessional way. It’s ridiculous.
MiataMama: I have been living for the new episodes of Devilish Joy to come out every week. Two weeks, only four episodes left, until it was to be finished. I am absolutely STUNNED by their lack of warning and/or consideration for their viewers. Couldn’t we have at least had until the end of the month DramaFever?!?
Kdrama Jen: I think I am most upset by the way this was handled. It’s like we were in this committed relationship, maybe we had our ups and downs, but we we always stood by one another. I mean, I went to the first Drama Fever Awards show. I continued my subscription even when subs were not working on my phone. I have BEEN THERE for you, Drama Fever. But now? It feels like we were hanging out at our favorite BBQ place, and you just snuck out a back window, leaving me with questions and the bill.
What does this mean for the future of kdramas?
To be honest, I think that this will only be a small blip in the future of dramas. Now that the international community has shown that they are willing to pay for content, people will come forward to provide it. That might mean that we will be watching more shows on Kocowa, Netflix, or Viki in the future. And for some, it might mean checking a few of the less legal sites. But regardless of where fans watch, the drama love isn’t disappearing anytime soon.
Kmuse: Asian countries have started promoting their shows heavily worldwide. I don’t see that stopping anytime soon, especially when big players such as Netflix are helping produce some of the content. It might just take a few months for things to settle back into a new status quo.
Karie the Maknae: I think Kmuse has it right–it’s not like international drama fans are going anywhere. Last I checked, DF had 4.8 million FB followers, which translates into serious ka-ching for WarnerMedia if they play their cards right. The way they’re treating current fans with this no-notice shutdown, however, doesn’t bode well.
MiataMama: I’m seriously hoping this isn’t the beginning of the end for other Asian drama platforms. *cough Viki cough* I don’t even want to contemplate a life without K-Drama.
Kmuse: Sadly, that does mean we won’t be finishing our Beauty Inside chatty recap any time soon. That makes me so sad since that show is so much fun to chat about.
Clkytta: Not the chatty recap! Don’t these people know not to mess with the fangirls! I need my kbestie drama time!
Kdrama Jen: No worries. We still have this AWESOME 70-episode Chinese drama on Netflix. Maybe the rest of you want to join Kmuse and me? Rise of Phoenixes is pretty awesome! But, seriously, as a drama watcher from before the days of any of these very convenient streaming sites, I have complete faith that there will always be a way to feed our obsession.
What are The Fangirls doing to cope?
Kmuse: I might be finding my content in some of the less than legal sites. I am also watching a lot of Viki. At least they are still up and running (knock on wood) and providing me with a strong drama fix. This also might be the push I need to catch up on some of my longer Chinese dramas. Those 70-episode shows take some serious commitment and Kdramas kept getting in the way.
Karie the Maknae: I’ve been saying for a while now that I need to catch up on some older dramas. I guess now’s my chance! As long as they weren’t exclusive to DF, that is.
MiataMama: Thankfully I’ve got several currently airing shows I’m watching on Viki. In fact, this seems the perfect time to catch up on Master in the House— I could REALLY use some funny to cheer me up, right about now.
Clkytta: I’m so sad!! I’ve been incredibly loyal to DramaFever over the years and I feel betrayed! Dramafever has been my go-to site for years and right now 95% of what I’m watching was there. So now I have to figure out what I was watching and where to find it. I liked that Dramafever used professional subs and that most of the time I could depend on those subs to be posted when they were supposed to be. I’m bereft guys, super sad and annoyed beyond belief.
Kdrama Jen: It turns out I have a FOURTH child! Who knew? OK, all kidding aside, I have subscriptions to Viki, Kocowa, Hulu, Netflix, Verve, and Vlive. I have PLENTY to watch. I am annoyed that shows I am currently watching have come to a screeching halt, but there is always a way…
According to Dramafever, they will be contacting those that are owed a refund through email. So be sure to check your email in the upcoming weeks and if you don’t see anything, send them a quick email. My guess is they won’t be dealing at this for very long. Especially if you consider the horrible customer service they showed when everything was happening in the last 2 days.
Kmuse: I have around 3 months left on my year subscription and I hope I am getting a refund. I saw people complaining that they had their subscriptions renewed this week which I think is horrible. This can’t be something that suddenly happened overnight, so the fact that they still charged people is really crappy.
Karie the Maknae: My monthly bill for DF was always charged on the 6th, so that means that I was just charged 10 days ago. I know it’s not much–$5 is pretty much a drop in the bucket–but it’s still MY money. I want to be treated fairly for the investment I made.
MiataMama: Like Kmuse, I’ve got about 3 more months left on my subscription. We shall just have to wait and see how well they process all the refunds.
Clkytta: I paid monthly so I’m not out much. Of course, my payment drafted the day before the shutdown.
Kdrama Jen: I moved to a monthly subscription with DF last year, so it isn’t a huge loss for me, but it did just renew a couple of days ago.
Kmuse: When it comes down to it I don’t think I will miss Dramafever as a company that much. I was constantly having problems with their various services and most of their new content (with the exception of the last month) was mediocre. What really upsets me is how the company went around closing. They didn’t give people notice or the ability to prepare and binge the last of their shows. They didn’t respond at all and treated loyal customers like trash. Sadly, it is this that I will remember the most and not all the many years they provided drama watchers a place to view their shows.
Karie the Maknae: Kmuse said it perfectly. I subscribe to Viki and Kocowa in addition to DF to catch all the airing dramas, and I found that I turned to DF last. They weren’t terribly responsive to any inquiries, which makes how this all went down less surprising, now that the shock is wearing off. Now I’m just going to have to be patient as I wait for the DF dramas I was watching to show up elsewhere.
MiataMama: I had been using DramaFever to watch K-dramas since I first fell down the rabbit-hole 7 years ago. I locked in my annual subscription back before they started with the price hikes, so I didn’t mind too much as the new content ebbed and flowed. Never had any serious issues with my dramas being difficult to watch. (And they never went on the warpath to block my VPN like other video platforms – Ahem, I’m looking at you Netflix and Hulu). So I’m extremely saddened by the death of DramaFever and will need some time to mourn the loss of access to so many shows.
Clkytta: I’m just going to pout that all my dramas are on hold. Now I need to make an actual list of what I was watching. I just looked at my list on DF most of the time. I do have Viki, so I’m sure I’ll find something to watch.
Kdrama Jen: As the resident optimist and researcher of alternative pathways (Karie the Maknae probably would say “rule breaker”), I have no doubt I will find a way. The Internet is full of possibilities. Do not fret, dear readers. We will continue to bring you chatty recaps, first impressions, geeky drama interest stories, and other Hallyu content you have come to expect as readers of Dramas with a Side of Kimchi. Farewell, Drama Fever. Thank you for the memories, but we will be just fine without you.
What are your feelings on the Dramageddon? Were you as blindsided as we were? Share your thoughts in the comments. We hope that we can provide a safe place where we can all get through this latest trial together.
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi