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.
Global video site Viki has continued to expand its presence online after doubling down on Japanese anime with the launch of a dedicated YouTube channel, a new content deal with Hulu and exclusive access to a classic anime series.
Viki has launched its Tezuka YouTube channel, which is part of the video giant’s ‘Channel’ premium content push, with more than 100 episodes from famed Manga producer Osamu Tezuka. The episodes come directly from Viki’s own Anime collection and each one includes the company’s renowned subtitling support, which can be switched on using YouTube’s caption mode – marked by a ‘CC’ in the player bar.
The Singapore-based firm is furthering that Anime push in the US after it has added the Japanese cartoon genre to its existing sharing agreement with streaming giant Hulu. Already, Hulu includes Korean content from Viki and now the company says it has added “roughly one hundred hours” of anime to the service, which is also available in Japan.
Finally, in what is likely to yield a nice visibility boost from Viki, it has struck an exclusive deal to broadcast Riyoko Ikeda’s ‘The Rose of Versailles‘ for the first time in North America. For those who are not familiar with ‘shojo manga’, it is considered a classic and has been tightly guarded by Ikeda.
Viki will screen the first episode at Comic Con in New York in December and, with a large portion of comic fans descending on the event, the showing is likely to help many fans connect with Viki and its sizeable collection of content from Japan.
Tammy Nam, who heads up Viki in North America, told TNW that she is “very excited” by the opportunity. “It hasnt seen light of day for some time since Japanese anime licensers are strict, so this is significant,” she said.
While it may sound strange for a video content firm to give its content to larger rivals, the moves are entirely in line with Viki’s objectives, as Nam explains.
“We want to be where our fans are, as they like convenience. We already have distribution deals with FB, Hulu and others so YouTube is a great partner to give us broader reach. It will help us break down language barriers to give people access to content that they wouldn’t otherwise understand.”
On the face of it, Asian content, and anime in particular, might seem like it appeals to the US-based diaspora, but Nam says 70 percent of those that watch it on Viki are in fact non-Asian. That is a testament to Viki’s crowdsourced translations, which mean most of its content can be watched with a variety of subtitles.
Viki’s unique community of volunteers have translated Viki global content collection into close to 200 million words of subtitles, across 150 different languages. Nam says that, when it comes to anime, users are particularly engaged, spending more than 20 hours per week on translations.
The Hulu and YouTube deals mark a more global focus from Viki expansion efforts, which recently centered around Asia. The company announced distribution partnerships with MSN across Southeast Asia and Renren in China in recent months.
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