Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Viki, the global video site acquired by Japan’s Rakuten in September, has taken a big step to upping its presence in China after announcing a partnership with Baidu, the country’s (overwhelmingly) dominant search engine, and plans for a Shanghai office next year.
The Singapore-headquartered company has linked up with Baidu Video — a service that sees 237 million monthly active users — to bring its unique, crowd-translated content from the US, Japan, Korea, India, Latin America and other parts of the world to v.baidu.com. Viki itself has over 26 million monthly users, and includes videos in 160 different languages.
It’s been 18 months since Viki first entered China through a deal with Facebook-like Renren, while in June this year it inked a deal to bring Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies to three online platforms in China. Razmig Hovaghimian, CEO and co-founder of Viki, tells TNW that the film “did phenomenal”, garnering four-times the cable ratings in US and indicating the potential of China.
When researching the success of Falling Skys, Hovaghimian and his team noted that the movie was performing well on Baidu’s search engine, and that led them to pursue partnership opportunities with the search giant.
Viki’s two way model works on importing global content to countries, and exporting local shows to the rest of the world (its partners include Hulu, Netflix and others). With a strong partner in China, Hovaghimian says Viki is in a position to “outbound” more content from China and build “quality audiences and traffic” for show producers and advertisers.
The advertising model is still core to Viki’s monetization but, under its new owners, Hovaghimian says the company is “starting to have conversations” about linking up with Rakuten’s other social TV services and the potential of e-commerce.
By offering subtitled content, Viki helps content producers break down language and cultural barriers to enter new markets without the need to localize. As we’ve said before, the company has found some interesting examples of consumption, such as India’s Bollywood movies proving popular in Latin America and the Middle East.
Headline image via Liu Jin / AFP / Getty Images
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