Kara Swisher

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Viki Strikes Deal With Baidu to Bring Crowd-Translated Programming to China

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Viki, the innovative global video service that has been described as “Hulu for the rest of the world,” will partner with Chinese search giant Baidu for its first foray into that country.

The Singapore-based company, which was bought by Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten in September for $200 million, offers premium TV shows, movies and content, but with a twist. The programming is translated and subtitled into more than 160 languages by its users.

Viki will launch its effort with Baidu with Turner and Cartoon Network shows including “Falling Skies,” which is apparently a very popular show in China. (It’s a small post-apocalyptic world after all, especially when aliens are attacking.)

In picking Baidu, Viki gets access to its 237 million users in China for streaming content that will be translated into Chinese and English — including full-length movies, dramas, comedies, anime and more from the United States, U.K., Taiwan, Korea, Japan and 10 other countries — on many devices. Viki said it currently has over 26 million viewers watching two billion videos monthly.

Viki, which has already done several partnership deals in China, will be Baidu’s first streaming partner from outside the country, which is important given that big players like Netflix and Google’s YouTube are not represented there.

As part of the increased presence, Viki — which has offices in San Francisco, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo — will be opening an office in Shanghai in early 2014.

“We are really building a content graph across the globe, available in all languages,” said Razmig Hovaghimian, CEO and co-founder of Viki, in an interview about the multi-year partnership. “Our goal in China is to break down barriers to that entertainment.”

Viki’s name is a combination of “video” and “wiki” — but mostly it is a very cool service that I really enjoy (I am a huge fan of Indian shows, like “Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage”).

It makes its money in much the same way Hulu does, with in-stream advertising revenue that it shares with content producers. There is a subscription and data play there, too, but a non-paid content model powers its business for now.

Before the Rakuten acquisition, investors had poured only about $25 million into Viki, including Andreessen Horowitz, SK Telecom, Greylock Partners, Omidyar Network, Charles River Ventures and Neoteny Labs.

The most recent additions to that Silicon Valley power group were Microsoft exec and Sling Media founder Blake Krikorian and Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg — both of whom have much digital entertainment experience — who put an undisclosed amount into Viki in late July.


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