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Rakuten buys OTT service Viki

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has bought multi-language over-the-top service Viki.

Rakuten already owns Wuaki.TV, an over the top service that is available in Spain and earlier this year outlined ambitious plans to launch throughout Europe.

Viki has bases in Asia and the US and crowd sources subtitles, offering a swathe of international content to its customers in 160 languages. BBC Worldwide acquired a small share in the business in 2011 having previously licensed it programmes.

Financial details of the Rakuten deal were not broken out, but reports suggest the Japanese firm paid US$200 million.

Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi ‘Mickey’ 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.”

Razmig Hovaghimian, Viki CEO and co-founder, added: “We’ve built a truly global TV platform. 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 localization.”

Rakuten said the deal will allow Viki to expand its activities in Japan and other international markets. It added that Viki is a perfect fit with Wuaki.tv.