Viki, the global video site owned by Japan’s Rakuten, has made an acquisition of its own after it snapped up Soompi, an English-language news and fan site dedicated to Korean cinema and dramas, for “less than $10 million”.
Interestingly, Viki bought Soompi from rival Crunchyroll, the anime video distribution company owned by the Chernin Group, which had acquired it last year.
Soompi claims around seven million monthly users, having doubled that number over the past two years. Viki, which claims 40 million users, said the two sites will continue to operate separately, but will integrate their content both ways. That means that Viki-powered videos will appear in Soompi forums and postings, while Soompi news will be used in Viki’s show and celebrity pages. In addition, Soompi founder Susan Kang will lead Viki’s community and publishing team.
Tammy J. Nam, who replaced Viki co-founder Razmig Hovaghimian as CEO earlier this year, explained in a statement that the deal will boost Viki’s content play:
Soompi’s recent exponential growth underscores global fans’ changing tastes in popular entertainment, and we’re excited to fuel this growth even more. Joining forces with the Soompi team enables Viki to kick-start our news and fan forum offering, starting first with Korean and with plans to expand into other vertical categories.
Viki was bought by Rakuten for $200 million in 2013, and it forms the core of the Japanese e-commerce firm’s global content play alongside Wuaki in Europe. Both video services are expected to be integrated into Viber, the mobile messaging company that Rakuten acquired for $900 million in 2013, as the firm looks to tap into the potential of mobile for content distribution. It stands to reason that Soompi and Viki’s wider content play will also form part of the Viber mobile video strategy.