In the 5th, final installment of my interview, the founders of dramafever.com discuss their monetization plans for the site, and the unique offering to the kdrama fan community.
Xiaochang: How did you come to decide on an add-supported monetization model rather than a subscription model?
Suk Park: Given our research on the existing illegal platforms, the issue was about capturing market share. It seems unrealistic to come out with a pay-per-view model, which was the other alternative, when all this content was being offered for free. So the best approach to capture market-share fast, and away from the free sites seemed to be to offer an equally free site, but with much higher quality and a better user experience to get our brand out. Now does that mean that going forward we might or might not include a premium site without ads? That’s still to be discussed. But given what we’re seeing in the market, we’ve adapted our business model according to that.
Seung Bak: Let me just add to that — I think over time we will offer a variety of ways for people to consume this content because there’s a bunch of people who want to watch for free and will watch ads, and there’s a lot of people who want to will pay for it without ads, and it’s just a function of us trying to figure out how we can provide packages and offerings with people in a variety of spectrums. The real costs associated with different sorts of models — it doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of thing. The right answer is probably something in between and something we have to figure out in the coming months.
Suk Park: One thing’s for sure: we will not get rid of our free offering.
Seung Bak: Yes, there will always be a substantial free offering. This is not a bait-and-switch game. We’re trying to build a real destination site, and there’s always going to be a free component. But there might be an opportunity for us to create some premium offerings that complement what we have.
Xiaochang: So coming out of beta, what sort of tactics will you be taking to get the word out about Dramafever?
Seung Bak: Let me just recap what we’ve been doing. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, our first priority was engaging the early adopters. The early adopters are people who are going to dramabeans and they other sorts of blogs and going to d-addicts and consuming on mysoju and so forth. Our main priority in the beta phase was to make sure that the site works perfectly. So right now, we still have some kinks to work out, there’s lot of little things we have to fix and we’re also developing new features so that the site will be more robust than what we have now. We’re also trying to line up some anchoring sponsors to go with the initial launch. So there’s a lot of moving pieces that we have right now. But I think that the goal is to have a very PR-driven campaign. So in the early phase, in the beta phase, there was a lot of working with the niche fan-oriented blogs. When we officially launch, we’re going to engage a lot of the mainstream blogs and the mainstream blogs and the mainstream media to really kick it off with a big bang. I think the thing that we’re getting right is that we got to make sure that we have a very good user experience and we reply to every single feedback that we get from people, which I think is unheard of. I think if you try to write mysoju and email, they probably never get back. WE’re offering people a very high level of service even though it’s a very free site. We’re actively engaging the users and actively engaging the community and I think we’re just going to build on that as we move toward our formal launch.
Xiaochang: Out of curiosity, how many people are you right now?
Seung Bak: There’s a core team of 5 people: Suk and myself, and we have a CTO, and a developer and a graphic designer. And then we have an additional group of 10 people who are helping us in different freelance and consulting capacities who bring in different skill-sets. Some could be finance, some could be on licensing and sales or more strategic stuff. So, a fully staffed team and we’ll just get bigger and bigger as we go along.
Xiaochang: Okay, one last question, which about the community you’re planning on building. How do you see this community on your site as any way different than the communities that are on the sites like d-addicts that are already built elsewhere that are already talking about this content? What’s going to make them want to do the same thing on your site?
Seung Bak: I mean, if you just look at the web in general, it’s not a zero-sum game. Just because you have a community about a particular subject doesn’t mean that no one else could have it. The approach that we’re taking is that we’re not trying to become d-addicts nor are we trying to become mysoju or soompie or any of these other existing places where people are hanging out. What we’re doing is that we’re hoping to ultimately compliment the sort of ecosystem of Asian entertainment in this country, so the features that we’re building are very dramafever centric — they’ll be around the dramas that we carry, they’ll be around the way people are experiencing content. It’ll be around stuff that we’re creating for people. So, we’re not going to go out and create a wiki because that’s already being very well addressed by d-addicts, and the people who are going to d-addicts are also our audience members and the people who are running it are potentially our friends and our partners. So when we talk community, we’re talking offering features unique to our site.