Rakuten, a diversified Japanese Internet services company, signed an agreement to acquire Viki, a global video streaming startup built to expand the reach of premium content via crowd-sourced subtitles in multiple languages, the companies announced Monday.
Singapore-based Viki provides ad-supported primetime TV shows, movies, music videos and other premium video content to new auds via community-sourced subtitles, available in more than 160 languages. Launched in December 2010, Viki has served more than 2 billion video streams and users have translated more than 400 million words to date. The vidsite offers more than 14,000 hours of content from 40 partners including NBCUniversal, BBC, KBS, SBS and TV Tokyo.
“Our vision is very well aligned with Rakuten’s focus on building a borderless digital ecosystem,” Viki CEO and co-founder Razmig Hovaghimian said in a statement. “We’ve built a truly global TV platform, with and for the fans, allowing content owners to reach the world in any language.”
With the acquisition, Rakuten said it plans to use Viki’s global footprint, content and language analytics to expand its Internet services ecosystem. In 2012, Rakuten acquired Wuaki.tv, a video-on-demand and streaming service based in Barcelona, Spain, that recently expanded into the U.K.
Viki, with more than 22 million users, “is built on a powerful community, focused on removing the language barriers that have traditionally trapped great content inside geographical borders,” Rakuten CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani said.
Rakuten’s services for businesses and consumers include e-commerce, travel, banking, credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. The Tokyo-based firm, founded in 1997, has more than 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. Viki, with about 50 employees, is based in Singapore with offices in San Francisco, Seoul and Tokyo.