MK Capital-Backed DramaFever Brings International TV Shows to the Web

4/4/12Follow @jpruth

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150 countries within the next 12 months. Bak also wants to triple his staff of fourteen full-time employees this year. DramaFever has thus far raised more than $6 million since 2009 from backers that include YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, StubHub founder Jeff Fluhr, Capital IQ co-founders Steve Turner and Randy Winn, and Wikets CEO Andy Park.

Bak says the latest funding will also help him diversify his content sources beyond the seven countries that now provide programming. DramaFever offers shows from Korea’s three major television broadcasters, KBS, MBC, and SBS. Other content providers include Taiwan’s Sanlih Entertainment Television and Asahi TV in Japan. Bak wants to add shows from countries such as Chile, Brazil, Columbia, and Argentina. “We are taking primetime shows that are very popular from around the world and curate them for an international audience,” he says. “The funding allows us to accelerate expansion across the board.”

Some of the most popular shows from the international market, Bak says, are soap opera-style dramas. “There is a guy and a girl who want to be together but there is a mother getting in the way or a love triangle,” he says. There also primetime shows that are analogues to U.S. hit series such as CSI and Desperate Housewives. In spite of their local appeal, Bak says many shows produced in other countries face challenges reaching audiences in outside markets. That is why he focuses on shows that do not already have international distribution through official channels.

Viewers can watch shows through DramaFever for free with accompanying advertisements, or pay about $10 per month for commercial-free programs. In addition to the Web platform, DramaFever is available through an app for Roku media players and for mobile viewing as an Apple iPad app. Paid subscribers who use the app can also access additional content on their devices. An Android-based app is due later this year, Bak says. DramaFever is also expected to be available on the Google TV platform this year. The company is in discussions to bring its app to Web-connected smart televisions, as well.

Bak got his start in the startup arena as chief marketing officer for financial information platform Capital IQ. He says he joined the company right out of college, watched it change business models, raise capital, and grow into a $400 million business before it was acquired in 2004 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Capital IQ’s founders eventually became backers in DramaFever. Bak says his time with Capital IQ helped him prepare for launching his own company. “That experience was invaluable,” he says. “I went through the full lifecycle.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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