Anime-focused online video service Crunchyroll is targeting new audiences with KDrama.com, a new site that focuses squarely on Korean Drama. The new site, which Crunchyroll is slated to announce later on Thursday, will offer viewers new episodes of popular Korean dramas the same day they air on TV in South Korea.
Crunchyroll promised “thousands of hours” of new and catalog content in a press release that mentioned South Korean broadcasters KBS, MBC, SBS and CJ E&M as some of the new site’s content partners. All content will be subtitled, and videos will initially just be available to audiences in the U.S.
KDrama will launch on the web, iOS (S AAPL) and Android (S GOOG) first, but plans to add additional platforms in the near future. The site will use a freemium model, serving up some free and ad-supported content while also offering a subscription tier for access to additional content. For a limited time, that subscription tier will be available to paying Crunchyroll subscribers for no additional charge.
Crunchyroll is one of a handful of online video companies focusing on content arbitrage: The company cheaply licenses foreign content for distribution outside of a broadcaster’s home market and then subtitles it to present it to audiences in the U.S. and beyond. This business model has gotten increased attention from bigger players, resulting in Crunchyroll competitor Viki.com’s acquisition for $200 million by Japan’s Rakuten last year, followed by a major investment in Crunchyroll by the Chernin Group.
Crunchyroll’s expansion into Korean dramas is a smart one: Korean TV has gotten a lot of traction around the world, with audiences in the U.S., Latin America, India and the Middle East all flocking to the genre. In the U.S., K-Drama fans have long been served by Crunchyroll competitor Dramafever, which recently also branched out to add kids content to its platform.