Rakuten acquires Viki

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has confirmed that it is to acquire Singapore-based video streaming website Viki in a move that better places it to compete with online services such as Amazon’s LOVEFiLM and Netflix. The deal is reported to be worth $200 million.

In recent times, Rakuten has been ramping up its content interests, acquiring e-reader services provider Kobo and European streaming video platform Wuaki.tv. Rakunen says that Viki perfectly complements Wuaki.tv’s front-line strategy and extends Rakuten’s digital content offering to include international primetime and mid-and long-tail content from leading broadcasters and distributors.

Rakuten chairman and CEO Hiroshi 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. Since our foundation, Rakuten’s focus too has been to open up great services, content and goods to a global community. Viki is a perfect complement to Rakuten’s joint philosophies of Empowerment and Shopping IS entertainment.”

He described Viki as “a one-of-kind company” with an entirely unique approach to video streaming that is truly global and truly engaging. “They are fast, agile, and highly mobile. Their smart and creative approach to bringing popular content to global audiences will enable Rakuten to move quickly into new markets around the world,” he explained.

Razmig Hovaghimian, Viki CEO and co-founder, said his company’s vision was 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. The Viki model has allowed us to unlock a massive torso of untapped demand. 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. Focusing on both content providers and fans, has allowed us to reach traditional TV like ratings online, with top shows getting translated in more than 50 languages,” he added.

“With Rakuten, we can now focus on building an entertainment ecosystem that also seamlessly allows viewers and content partners to jump across platforms, and interact with relevant Rakuten products and services seamlessly. I am thrilled to enter our next phase of growth as part of the Rakuten family, creating a service that competes with the largest industry players,” he declared.

Rakuten plans to leverage Viki’s global footprint, content and language analytics and community-first DNA further to expand the scope of its $16 billion Internet services ecosystem. Rakuten and Viki expect exponential growth in Viki’s primary revenue driver, selling advertising against its video content. Viki also syndicates select content and has the potential to launch new revenue models. At the same time, Viki can now leverage Rakuten’s 85 million registered users in Japan and deep digital commerce and media experience to grow its user base in Japan and Europe.

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