DramaFever vs Viki vs Hulu Plus: Korean Streaming Services Compared
Your options for streaming videos are a bit more limited if what you’re really interested in is Korean television. Fortunately, there are still plenty of options out there if this is what you really want. Here are a few examples that will get you right to
Drama Fever is all about HD Korean video streaming. They offer quite a few extras, so bargain hunters looking for incentives to be thrown in with plans will be well-pleased with the service. There is, of course, also free streaming with ads.
- Free Trial-You can try out the Korean streaming service for free for 7 days. This isn’t especially long of course, but at least there aren’t any ads during the trial and everything is still HD.
- Freebies-If you go with the Premium plan, you actually get a free Roku Stick along with it. This type of promotion can come and go, however. It’s important to keep an eye out for whether it’s currently active.
- Offline Viewing-If you get the premium plan, then you can views your shows offline after downloading them.
- Compatibilities-DramaFever also works with plenty of other devices bound for streaming including Chromecast, for example.
- Wide Korean Selection-Many reviewers pick DramaFever as having some of the best selection in terms of sheer variety. You can find titles like The Return of Superman, Doctor Romantic, Cinderella and the Fou Knights Boys Over Flowers, Cheese in the Trap and many others. These include especially Korean Dramas, Chinese Dramas, Romantic Comedies and other options like selections from Taiwan or Japan that have been translated, and it also includes Kpop and movies.
Viki is also usually right at the top of people’s lists for Korean video streaming. Apparently, there are sometimes some issues with subtitling on Viki shows, but viewers appreciate their price point and other perks.
- Update Speed-Reviewers comment on how Viki tends to upload new ongoing Korean shows faster than many of their competition. This includes adding subtitles. Reviewers say it’s often happening faster than other places.
- Mobile Compatibility-Commenters also point out that Viki tends to work better with mobile devices, even outside of using any officially sanctioned apps. You can indeed watch Viki through the Android app using your Viki Pass in order to avoid advertisements.
- Free Trial-You can get a free trial of the VikiPass which is also for one week, same as with DramaFever. The trial lasts about a week so that you can see if you like the setup.
Hulu isn’t a Korean or even Asian drama streaming service only, of course, but they certainly have plenty of this. There’s more of a tiered system on Hulu in terms of how they handle advertisements.
- Free Month-Unlike what happens with the other services, you get a free month to try out Hulu. This includes at the highest no-add level. This is four times longer than at either DramaFever or Viki.
- Non-Korean Options-If you want Korean streaming but also want to watch stuff not from Asia as well, then Hulu is going to be your best choice because it has a wide selection of stuff from all over the place and not just Asia.
- Mainstream-The focus of Korean selections here is on the mainstream options, and you can usually find full seasons of these.
Head to Head
DramaFever is known for having a wide assortment of Korean shows available for streaming when you want them. Examples include shows like Scarlet Heart, General and I, Goblin, Running Man, The Princess Wiyoug and many others. They even have titles that can be a bit misleading to Western audiences such as the one called “The Return of Superman” which is a strictly Korean show and not really superman-related as he’s known in the U.S. You can navigate around the site easily enough with a menu that lets you go right to browsing TV, choosing movies, or even browsing the Kpop selections which include Love On, Noble, My Love, Secret Message and others.
Viki has fast uploads and subbing, partly because their subtitles are done by the community. It’s crowdsourced, which helps with speed and accuracy. They also have a cheaper option than other services in terms of ad-free experience. People praise Viki for their compatibility too, with the services often working well on mobile. It’s worth noting that the speed is often reserved for Viki Pass subscribers. When you click on some of the videos, it tells you that you can only access it if you’re a member, or if you sign up for the free trial and that everyone else has to wait a few weeks to watch the free episodes. There are certainly complaints about the translation quality sometimes, however. Some of the reviewers in the Android store also have some issues with using the Chromecast feature through the service as well, apparently.
Hulu has a huge import selection including Korean shows. It has an innovative hybrid option where you both pay and have ads in order to keep the price down but also give you complete selections of a wide variety of programs. Their features don’t focus solely on Korean television, however, so some of the other options like DramaFever may have more shows and movies in that area, especially if they’re obscure or esoteric at all. But, it’s undeniable that Hulu is pretty thorough with having full seasons instead of just an episode or two. Whether these features will appeal to you will depend largely on whether you want as many Korean shows as possible, or have just one show.
Overall, DramaFever is going to be an especially good choice for those who really want access to as many different kinds of Korean and Asian streaming videos as possible. It’s honestly pretty hard to beat them when it comes to sheer numbers of titles and different kinds. If you’re instead looking for speed and staying up to date with the most recent television shows in Korea that are coming out right now, then you’ll want Viki instead. The paid version of Viki gets them out nearly right away, whereas otherwise, you’ll have to wait a few extra weeks to watch them.
DramaFever has a monthly plan that starts out at just under $5 a month. Those who want more can pay $8.33 per month instead. This gets you the free Roku Stick and other member benefits. You do pay yearly for this, however, making the total come out to $100 or so. You can also watch the streaming for free if you don’t mind all of the ads in every video.
Viki has pricing available at $5 a month per so, just like the standard pricing for DramaFever. It’s the same type of deal as DramaFever with removing ads for the cost. You can also pay yearly if you want in order to save money and get the cost down to $50. This means that Viki is going to be one of the better options if you want to get Korean streaming without ads. The official name is a “Viki Pass.”
Hulu offers up to date versions of television shows at just under $8 per month. You still have advertisements when it comes to this type of service, however. You can watch the older stuff for free still. But in order to get full seasons, you have to pay and deal with ads. If you want no commercials, then the cost is neatly $12 per month. Fortunately, there’s a free trial available to see if the cost is worth it to you.
Overall, Viki is going to come in as the cheapest option available as well as the fastest for getting streaming Korean episodes that just came out in many circumstances since it’s $50 per year. Hulu, on the other hand, is the most expensive, but it has a much larger range than the others, meaning it has more than just Korean videos. So, if you want to watch more than Korean videos only, Hulu would be the way for you. DramaFever is a bit more expensive, of course, but you get freebies as a result of the premium subscription like a free Roku Stick. So, essentially, it all comes down to what you want out of the service.
DramaFever gets fairly middle of the road reviews, including around three and a half stars on the Android Play app corresponding to the service. Positive reviews have come from such places as Vice, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and Cannes Lions. Reviews of the service elsewhere indicate that sometimes there’s an issue watching DramaFever on a tablet, though the Roku and desktop work just fine. Reviewers also appreciate that DramaFever has a wide selection of shows, wider than many other services, apparently, such as Viki.
Viki reviewers favor it because of their fast uploading and subtitling practices. In particular, reviewers mention that they end up with subtitles faster than what DramaFever puts out. This means that it’s often an excellent choice for people who are addicted to a particular show and need to make sure that they get their new episode fix as soon as possible. The community sources for subtitles assure that they can spit out new translations for Korean episodes in English quickly. Other reviews include a 4 out of 5 review from Cnet, the same from Google Play, a high 4.5 out of 5 from iTunes, and a high 4.5 out of 5 from Tap Smart as well. It’s worth noting that the Android app is updated frequently, and new features are coming out all the time there, including optimizations and bug fixes. Reviews on the Android site talk about how convenient the site is in terms of allowing quick access to Korean streaming videos.
Hulu is one of the most well-regarded streaming services period, and not just for Korean streaming. It seems that there's sometimes a problem with Hulu, according to reviewers, when it comes to Korean shows because sometimes they are randomly removed. This happened in May of 2016, for example. It still gets good reviews in this area, however. Examples include the 4 out of 5 that Hulu gets from PCMag. The reason for this is that you often get next-day streaming for current shows, and there are plenty of full seasons available on the site, including for Korean fare. This includes animated shows that offer simulcasts as well. Criticisms of the service from reviewers such as those on PCMag include that the interface can be hard to use, that HD can be a bit rare, and that you don’t get nearly as much original content as you do in other places. Both DramaFever and Viki boast original content offerings on occasion, for example. Hulu gets positive reviews all over the place as well. Even Top Ten Reviews gives them a positive review describing it as a good value.The degree to which you want to pay a little more for the experience or how much advertisements annoy you will factor into whether you’re in line with these reviews.
Overall, reviewers are fairly positive about all the potential services, with emphasis focused on particular options based on what you’re watching for. For example, Hulu is a fairly powerful option, and it includes plenty of Korean TV listings, examples include HeHeiress, Empress KI, Shopping King Louie, Fated to Love You and Liar Game. However, Korean television is not the focus of the Hulu site, so if Korean streaming for TV or movies is the only reason why you want to watch at all, then you may want to be more cautious. Reviews indicate that Hulu can sometimes neglect Korean shows. If your goal is to watch some Korean television but plenty of other stuff too, then Hulu is an effective choice. On the other hand, if what you want is to get your Korean shows and get them now, you will like Viki, provided they have the particular show you’re looking for. It could be a good idea to stick with them once you know they have what you want. Otherwise, reviews indicate DramDever will almost always have a show if it’s out there to be had, provided that you’re willing to wait for it a bit.