Rakuten Viki, a streaming provider specializing in Asian TV shows and movies, has reached deals with major Japanese broadcasters Nippon TV and Asahi TV to bring a collection of their shows to audiences outside the country.
The titles from Asahi TV, tentatively scheduled to premiere in the first quarter of 2019, are “Holiday Love,” “Adult High School,” “Anino Dating Agency,” “Age Harassment,” “Sumika Sumire” and “Good-bye, Enari-kun.”
Of the 10 titles acquired from Nippon TV, five are now available on Viki.com: “Overprotected Kahoko” (pictured above), “Caution, Hazardous Wife,” “Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa,” “A Girl’s Breakfast” and “Frankenstein’s Love.” In addition, five more from Nippon TV are coming soon to the platform: “May I Blackmail You?,” “SWIM!,” “Tokyo Tarareba Girls,” “Pretty Proofreader” and “Your Home is My Business!”
“These shows are a great fit for our platform, which has a proven ability to build communities around fandoms of content from around the world,” Sarah Kim, SVP of content and partnerships for Rakuten Viki.
Viki has specialized in K-drama programming, and Kim said there is “a lot of crossover among fans of Japanese and Korean dramas… Since a majority of our fans are avid K-drama fans, the J-drama stories resonate well with this passionate audience.”
For the shows from Nippon TV and Asahi TV, Rakuten Viki has streaming rights outside of Asia, mostly in the Americas and Europe, while some are also available in India and Oceania.
Titles on Viki are available to watch free with ads. Viki’s ad-free, HD service regularly costs $49.99 annually in the U.S. Viki Pass Plus, which includes access to Kocowa’s Korean programming, is regularly $99.99 per year (currently available in a special promo for $59.99 per year).
All told, Viki now offers more than 2,000 shows in the U.S., spanning content from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China. Worldwide, Viki has over 17 million registered users.
Asked whether Rakuten Viki is looking to negotiate rights for titles that had previously been exclusively available in the U.S. on DramaFever — the K-drama service that Warner Bros. Digital Networks shut down in October — Kim said “we’re always looking to onboard more K-drama content, especially those that will resonate well with our audiences within the romance and romantic comedy genres.” However, she declined to identify specific shows Viki might be seeking to license.
Over the past year, Viki also has released popular classics from Japan’s SPO Entertainment, including: “You’re My Pet – Kimi Wa Petto,” “Hakuouki SSL: Sweet School Life” and “I Am Reiko Shiratori! – Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu!”
“We are actively identifying other markets in Asia and other regions from which content that share similar traits might be a strong fit for our platform,” Kim said. “We are also exploring further co-productions with companies beyond Korea.”
The Japanese television shows arriving to the Viki platform will be subtitled by the site’s fan community, which has already translated content into more than 200 languages.
Rakuten Viki also is kicking off a Japanese content “sub-a-thon” for its subtitling community. The contest will let users compete with other teams and earn points for exclusive perks by subtitling the Japanese TV shows. Additionally, the Viki platform’s Learn Mode language-learning feature, which is available directly on the video player, will now let fans learn Japanese while watching TV shows.
Rakuten, a diversified Japanese Internet services company, acquired Viki in 2013.
Pictured above: “Overprotected Kahoko” from Nippon TV