Rakuten buys Viki to expand digital content offer

Japanese e-commerce business Rakuten has acquired San Francisco-based OTT service Viki.

Viki, which offers crowd sourcing to sublet and provide subtitles for prime-time TV content, has bases in Asia and the US. It offers international content in 160 languages. In 2011, BBC Worldwide acquired a small share in Viki.

Rakuten chairman and CEO Hiroshi ‘Mickey’ Mikitani said: “There are a striking number of synergies and shared philosophies between our two businesses; the Viki model is built on a powerful community, focused on removing the language barriers that have traditionally trapped great content inside geographical borders.”

Viki CEO and co-founder Razmig Hovaghimian said: “We’ve built a truly global TV platform. While viewers get to enjoy great entertainment they never knew existed anywhere, anytime and in their language, content owners get to reach a globally fragmented market, and increase the size of their target market multiple-fold through localisation.”

Rakuten said it planned to use the purchase to expand its digital content activities in Japan and expand into other international markets.

The Viki acquisition follows Rakuten’s 2012 purchase of video-on-demand service
Details of the deal have not been confirmed, though reports say Rakuten has paid US$200 million for Viki.

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