One of the advantages that the Internet offers over traditional media is that distribution globally is not a problem, and this is opening up new ways to monetise existing content over the long tail. The Video Wiki, Viki, is an interesting new website, which might quickly become the best way to view regional content around the world.
The free website is built around the Wiki concept of ‘crowdsourcing’ expertise, and uses this to build up a lot of content which is subtitled by Viki members. According to Ramzig Hovaghimian, Founder of Viki, around 5 per cent of the viewers contributed to the subtitling, over 100,000 a month.
He said, “For the top shows, up to 500 people might subtitle an episode collaboratively. The system is Wiki-like, so the community works together in real time, and every single word has a history of revisions, which people vote for.”
In this way, a user in India might be able to follow the latest soap opera from Korea, which has been subtitled by an active community in that country, without needing to know the language.
Hovaghimian added, “We are now at around 4 million users in a month, up from 2 million just six months ago, and there are community managers and moderators who also come from the audience, who ensure the quality of subtitles because they are fans, and are really passionate about the content.”
The long tail benefits of such a system are obvious. For a content publisher in Egypt, for example, their shows would normally never be seen outside their region, or even if they could be seen, would only be watched by a small portion of the potential audience, those who can understand the language.
With Viki and its crowdsourced translations, the reach grows exponentially, as anyone can watch these shows, which are (unlike the majority of online video content) professionally produced and planned. What this means is that the lifetime and reach of a TV show or movie grows dramatically.
Hovaghimian said, “We typically get the content on a 50-50 revenue share. Revenues have been strong, with some content partners making up to $50,000 gross on their content from around the world with Viki.”
Hovaghimian was in India recently and one of the reasons for the trip was to form tie-ups with publishers from India to air their content on Viki as well. The company already has a deal in place with Reliance, and he said, “We are going to announce more news in the future. Bollywood is an exciting genre, and we are getting good traction for it in the US, Europe and SE Asia.”
At the same time, the company is also looking for content from other countries to bring to India, and he said, “A lot of content, like content from Japan, Korea and Egypt, which we can play in India, and we hope that audiences here will also find it interesting.”
The company has grown organically, with very little marketing, and is hoping that as it adds ties to more content from around the world – they’re looking at five more countries right now, but won’t say which ones – that the site will grow too, and they are also looking at creating apps for mobile devices to drive further growth.