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Building Momentum In China, Streaming Site Viki Inks Deal With Baidu

Viki has more than 26 million monthly viewers who provide crowdsourced translations for its titles.

Video-streaming service Viki is a sort of global Hulu, and it announced Wednesday that it has inked a multi-year deal with Chinese search company Baidu to feature full-length movies and TV shows from more than 15 countries to China.

With this partnership, Chinese Internet users can view videos—including Korean dramas, Japanese anime, and American classics—from on their computers and mobile devices. Singapore-based Viki, which was acquired by Japanese tech company Rakuten in September, has more than 26 million monthly viewers who provide crowdsourced translations for its titles. Of the 2 billion videos in its catalog, more than 450 million words have been translated, according to the company.

"We knew we were on to something when we released the TNT sci-fi show Falling Skies over the summer [in China], and it began receiving four times the ratings than it did in the U.S.," CEO and cofounder Razmig Hovaghimian told Fast Company. The show, produced by Steven Spielberg, was Baidu's No. 1 search result for U.S. shows and raked in more than 7 million views, far surpassing the third season's U.S. premiere's 4.2 million viewers.

"We're looking to replicate this success and build a pipeline of the best of global content for Chinese fans," he said.

Viki has been steadily building momentum in China over the last 18 months, with partnerships including social network Renren, video-on-demand sites LeTV and Xunlei, production company Huace Film & TV, and web portal Sohu. Viki has also signed distribution deals to bring Chinese movies and shows to the rest of the world. Chinese and Taiwanese shows make up one of the fastest growing genres on the service, and the most popular ones have been translated into more than 40 languages.