TOKYO: Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, has acquired the video-streaming platform known as Viki as it seeks to expand its internet services into new markets.
In a move that analysts regard as a potential challenge to rivals Amazon and Netflix, the deal – rumoured to be valued at $200m – is the latest in a series of acquisitions aimed at expanding Rakuten's sales of digital content.
In less than three years Viki has built an audience of 22m users for its 1bn streamed videos each year.
The company offers premium content, such as primetime TV shows and movies, and then relies on its community of users to subtitle the content into over 160 languages across 200 countries.
By 'crowdsourcing' in this way, programmes and videos from countries like China and South Korea have been brought to the attention of a global audience.
Rakuten chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani predicted that Viki's "smart and creative approach to bringing popular content to global audiences" would enable Rakuten to move quickly into new markets.
In comments reported by the Wall Street Journal he said: "Viki is a one-of-a-kind company with an entirely unique approach to video streaming that is truly global and truly engaging."
The addition of Viki to its portfolio is expected to help Rakuten become more visible and extend its reach beyond Japan.
It also follows the company's acquisition over the past few years of Canadian e-reader seller Kobo for $315m, US online retailer Buy.com for $250m, French internet platform PriceMinister for $264m as well as a major stake in social network Pinterest.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff