Asian Content Streamer Rakuten Viki Adds Transactional VOD in North America (EXCLUSIVE)

Rakuten Viki, a streaming platform specializing in Asian content and fan-generated sub-titles, is launching a transactional VOD function in North America. The new functionality kicks off with two recent Korean movies, “Josee” and “New Year Blues.”

Backed by Japanese e-commerce and entertainment group Rakuten, Viki currently operates an ad-supported video service (AVOD) and two tiers of subscription video (SVOD). The TVOD component will allow the company to offer content with yet shorter windows. “Josee,” an adaptation of Japan’s “Josee: The Tiger and the Fish,” and which is exclusive to Viki, released in Korean theaters in December. “New Year Blues,” about four couples who must overcome their fears, released last month.

The TVOD option is priced at $4.99 or lower. It is available via desktop browser, Roku, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV Plus, Android TV, Chromecast, and on mobile devices.

“Rakuten Viki aims to bring some of the hottest Asian movies and dramas to fans within days after their debut in Asia. With the launch of TVoD, fans can quickly and easily access highly anticipated films like ‘Josee,’ that they can then watch anytime, anywhere and at their own convenience. It’s also a way to watch in-demand, exclusive content that isn’t too hard on the wallet,” said the company’s senior VP of content and partnerships, Sarah Kim.

Founded back in 2007 with start-up funding from Singapore’s Neoteny Labs, Viki was a pioneer of Asian streaming. It was acquired by Rakuten in 2015 and itself acquired Asian pop culture fan site Soompi in 2015.

Today Rakuten Viki claims more than 1,700 TV shows and movies from Korea, Japan, mainland China, Taiwan and Thailand that are accessible for free or through the different subscription tiers, and 55 million users. It has been involved in original content including “Dramaworld.” Fans and enthusiasts have added sub-titles in approximately 150 languages.

Currently available titles include Korean zombie thriller “Train to Busan,” Chinese romantic comedy series “Go Go Squid!,” Korean drama “True Beauty,” and hit K-pop survival show “I-LAND,” the original Korean series “Good Doctor” and “King of Masked Singer,” forerunner of U.S. series “The Masked Singer.”

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