Viki Adds Japanese Content in Drive to Become a Top Global Channel (Exclusive)

Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in Tokyo P 2014

Japanese majors Toho and Fuji TV among new content providers for crowd-subtitled multilingual video platform

Crowd-subtitled, multilingual video platform Viki has signed multi-territory content deals with Japanese studio Toho and Fuji TV, which will see some dramas simulcast on the platform, as well major movies offered.

Viki, which was taken over by Japanese Internet services company Rakuten in September 2013, has also partnered with production company and distributor SPO Entertainment, and renewed its content agreement with TV Asahi.      

20 Toho movies including Detroit Metal City and Space Brothers, along with drama series such as season two of TV Asahi's hit Doctor X, will be streaming on Viki by the middle of this month. Fuji TV's Hero, starring local heartthrob Takuya Kimura, will be available from Nov 14, while a simulcast of Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in Tokyo, produced by SPO Entertainment, will begin Nov. 24.

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The simulcasts will see Japanese versions go up first, with Viki's army of volunteer translators beginning to create subtitles in various languages immediately. Subtitled versions are often completed within hours.  

Co-founder and CEO of Viki, Razmig Hovaghimian, who is now head of video content for Rakuten, has big plans for the platform to stand out among the numerous channels available globally.  

"There are hundreds of channels out there, but 15 or so of them probably account for about 90 percent of viewing. I want Viki to be one of those 15 channels that viewers go to," Hovaghimian told The Hollywood Reporter

Rakuten took over Wuaki TV, a Spanish streaming site that is expanding across Europe, in 2012 and mobile messaging and calling service Viber in February this year for $900 million. With more than 200 million monthly active users, Hovaghimian hopes synergies with Viber will help funnel viewers to Viki, which itself has around 35 million users. Viki's mobile app has now passed 25 million downloads.  

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Competition is likely to continue heating up in the online streaming market as consumers move toward viewing on multiple screens and mobile devices. Last month, SoftBank followed up its Legendary Pictures investment with the acquisition of DramaFever, a platform specializing in Korean TV dramas, but which has branched out into other genres since its founding in 2009.  

However, Rakuten is unlikely to go shopping for a studio, according to Hovaghimian, though it has already invested in productions.

"There's no need to go buy an MGM where there is so much great content out there that can licensed," said Hovaghimian.  

Viki is expected to announce more content partners in the near future.


Twitter: @GavinJBlair