AT&T Drops DramaFever Korean Streaming Service

AT&T recently stated that it is dropping DramaFever, a Korean-focused streaming service. The service provided 13,000 episodes for $4.99 per month. Founded in 2009, the channel was acquired by Warner Bros., then later sold to AT&T as part of its merger with Time Warner. Other Korean-language programming will probably fill the niche left by DramaFever. More importantly, this news is yet another sign that AT&T’s streaming services continue to improve.

So, why is AT&T shuttering its DramaFever OTT services? A message posted on the DramaFever website read: “Thank you for nine great years. As of October 16, DramaFever has been shut down… While this decision is difficult, there are a variety of business reasons that have led to this conclusion.”

A recent press release from AT&T shed a few more details on the situation. It read: “Today, Warner Bros. Digital Networks will be closing its DramaFever OTT service due to business reasons and in light of the rapidly changing marketplace for K-drama content, a staple of the service’s programming. Warner Bros. Digital Labs, which encompasses more than two-thirds of the DramaFever workforce, will continue operating, serving as the tech engine behind many of WBDN’s operations.”

So, this was a business decision, which should hardly be a surprise. My guess is that the subscription numbers for DramaFever didn’t cover the costs to continue the service’s operation. Shuttering DramaFever was AT&T’s way of cutting dead weight. They corporation likely did this to make room for something bigger and better.

While I’m not a betting mind, I do enjoy dabbling in speculation. I have a feeling that the KoreanDirect and KoreanDirect Gold viewing packages will replace DramaFever on DIRECTV NOW. It’s already available as an add-on purchase DIRECTV’s satellite TV services. My speculation is more than a hunch, it’s based on recent decisions made by DIRECTV NOW. We recently reported that DIRECTV Now users can get the Brazilian Entertainment channel package. This is one of many WorldDirect A La Carte packages that are currently available on DIRECTV satellite service. The other foreign-language programming includes:

  • Four separate Spanish-language packages: EN ESPAÑOL, MÉXICO PLUS, AMÉRICAS PLUS, and MÁS MOVIES
  • MandarinDirect III: Mandarin-language entertainment from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
  • ChineseDirect: Channels from China with Cantonese TV programming and more
  • Filipino TV: Programming from the Philippines
  • Korean TV: Includes KoreanDirect and its KoreanDirect™ Golf packages
  • Russian Entertainment: Three Russian TV packages
  • VietDirect Plus: Programming variety from Vietnam

As I stated earlier, this is all speculation on my part. My guess is that the Brazilian Entertainment package, which costs $25 per month, is a test. If it does well, the other packages should likely follow. This could be part of AT&T’s plans to position DIRECTV NOW as its premier streaming service. This will set it apart from AT&T Watch TV, which seems to be a more value-driven streaming option. As with any speculation of this type, we’ll keep a close eye on these developments. As things change, we will report upon them right here in the Solid Signal blog.