Here’s the latest reason to pay attention to the video service aiming to compete globally with Netflix and Amazon by asking users to translate foreign TV shows and movies: Viki (it’s a combination of “video” and “wiki”) will announce today that it’s available in the U.S. on Roku — potentially giving it access to about 7 million homes.
Roku users will be able to watch a few thousand shows with subtitles in as many as 200 languages. The line up will include the South Korean hit My Love From the Star, as well as productions being adapted for U.S. audiences such as medical drama Good Doctor (by CBS) and murder-mystery God’s Gift – 14 Days (by CAA). The channel will be available to those with a current generation Roku player or Roku TV. Similar to Hulu, there’s a free, ad-supported offering and a $3.99 a month premium service, Viki Pass.
It’s not Viki’s first appearance in the U.S.: It’s also available on PCs, iOS and Android mobile devices, Google Chromecast, and the Xbox 360. Netflix, YouTube and Hulu also license some content from Viki.
Still, Roku “is an important part of Viki’s mission to introduce global primetime entertainment to new audiences around the world,” Viki’s Product VP Alex Chan says. “The Roku platform is among the most requested streaming platforms, so we’re thrilled to offer this option to current Viki viewers, as well as introduce Viki’s content to millions of Roku customers.”
Viki will highlight the Roku alliance with a new worldwide campaign promoting itself as “New. Free. Binge-Worthy.” U.S. consumers will be able to compete to win Roku players.
Viki was launched in 2010 by former NBCUniversal SVP Razmig Hovaghimian. who raised about $24.3 million from prominent Silicon Valley bankers including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock, and Charles River Ventures. But rivals took notice in 2013 when Japan’s biggest e-commerce company, Rakuten, paid $200 million for it.