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Japan's Rakuten to Acquire Video Site Viki

The Singapore-based online video destination has been described as "Hulu for the rest of the world."

TOKYO – Japan's Rakuten is to buy video site Viki, which uses crowd-sourced subtitles to deliver content in more than 150 languages, as it continues to expand the range of its online businesses. The Japanese Internet giant will pay $200 million for the Singapore-based company. 

Rakuten, which began as an online mall in Japan, has been building its global presence through takeovers in Asia, Europe and the U.S., including Buy.com, the Kobo e-reader, the Wuaki.tv video site and a $100 million investment in Pinterest.

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"What makes Viki very different to our other acquisitions is that it's already a global business. Content is a key part of Rakuten's business and we will be looking at ways to integrate Viki as part of our digital contents hub," a Rakuten spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter  

"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," wrote Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani in a statement. "Since our foundation, Rakuten’s focus too has been to open up great services, content and goods to a global community."

Razmig Hovaghimian, Viki CEO and co-founder, added, “Our vision is very well aligned with Rakuten’s focus on building a borderless digital ecosystem. We’ve built a truly global TV platform, with and for the fans, allowing content owners to reach the world in any language.”

Viki went live in December of 2010, and has signed content deals with providers, including BBC Worldwide, which also invested in the start-up. In addition, it has signed deals with Warner Music, SEED Music Group of Taiwan and Korea’s LOEN.

Viki licenses its original content, with subtitles created by its users, to partners including Hulu, Netflix and Yahoo.

The site currently hosts more than 1 billion video streams annually.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair