Asian entertainment is now available and coming to tens of millions via streaming platform Viki. – There are only two problems with Korean – and for that matter, most movies, TV shows, anime, and film content from Asia. Problem number one: availability. Problem number two: language. Torrenting is illegal. But you could, of course, resort to pirating… even then, however, many titles are nigh impossible to find.
Aside from legality, pirate sites don’t really provide fans opportunities to discover in the way that – on a streaming site – this title leads to suggested other programs you might like. And, very few people speak all of the languages of the major Asian entertainment producers – or even one of them for that matter. Japan had been dominant for so long – especially anime.. Japan got a decent head start in anime by subtitling (sometimes wonderfully and sometimes less so) their offerings in English.
Following a string of absolute home runs, however, that include everything from the 2020 Oscar award-winning film Parasite to the Netflix sure-to-become-a-cult classic Squid Games, Korea has more than proved its mettle… and is actually doing a better job at subtitling than most other Asian providers.
We love Asian films, dramas, anime, and more…and so do you – obviously – otherwise… Why would you be reading this? Let’s, however, pause for a second and give Korea a round of applause, ok? The nation deserves it. It’s incredible what Korea has managed to accomplish in such a short period of time. And the access ports to the world of ‘K-Content’ are only widening. Take, for example, a Kdrama app that’s maving K-waves.
A portmanteau of the words ‘video’ and ‘wiki,’ the app started as a streaming service. But Viki had the brilliant idea of finding teams or individuals willing to help subtitle everything from movies to K-dramas… what you might call a ‘wikipedia-izing’ of content management.
An idea that some had doubts about, but the doubters have been proved spectacularly wrong! The Viki app now has a massive catalog. It includes content from Korea and all over Asia… Thailand, China, Japan, Taiwan, and more. And the best part? –The content has been subtitled into 150+ languages! Wiki-pedizing for the win!!
This platform deserves major kudos for providing a service for language learners as well, and for that reason and others, it was awarded in 2011 with the Crunchy Award for best international startup. It turns out, people are not just willing, but eager to help subtitle their favorite shows.
The subtitling software the company developed allows many different volunteers to translate a video concurrently and among the Tower of Babel subtitles available, 50 endangered or vulnerable languages are also included, which is a huge service for linguists, entertainment consumers – and humankind in general. Subtitles used to have a bit of a checked history in the United States, with some people once rejecting foreign subtitled films as they said they “couldn’t read the subtitles fast enough” to understand, but there seem to be no such qualms from younger people.
One interesting theory is that – as many of us watch subtitled video content on our phones – folks became accustomed to subtitles. Recent unscientific polling asked whether dubbing content into English or using subtitles was the preferred way for American consumers to consume foreign films and shows – and, yep… subtitles won by a very nice margin.
Who knows? Perhaps our brains and eyes have evolved to move faster. We do, after all, live in a digital era dominated by computer games. Or maybe all the fuss about subtitles was just the loud voice of a minority… And was never actually a genuine problem.
Viki was purchased by Rakuten in 2013, and for anyone not familiar with that name, Rakuten is what some call “the Amazon of Japan.” Being bought by such a huge megacorp means Viki now has way more than enough capital to expand… and move into untapped markets and uncharted territory. About 15 million monthly active users are accessing Viki globally, according to current estimates. Before the Viki app, the service was a bit more like Netflix or Hulu, with premium licensed content being streamed.
After content went up on one of its channels, Viki volunteers could then submit their versions of subtitles – even for just a part of a TV series or film. Some call the idea: ‘fan-generated subtitling.’
This wonderfully collaborative project has caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets, who note that there are huge financial gains to be made through this collaborative streaming hybrid app subtitle video platform idea… and they’re not wrong because, as the number of people who become hooked on Asian – and escopailly Korean content – grows, more will choose to watch free content with sporadic commercial breaks, or go ad-free by signing up for one of the subscription models.
This huge and welcome step forward to helping Asian productions get more international exposure was originally founded in Singapore in 2007, and in 2010, the platform went global and made its services available to the public through web and mobile – before, as noted, becoming a part of Rakuten. There is so much glorious Asian entertainment to be discovered out there… and now with apps and subtitling, it’s easy to sit down and watch, say, a Taiwanese soap opera subtitled in – for example –say, Arabic, Albanian, Afrikaans, or Azerbaijani!
Asian cinephiles and lovers, it’s our time to shine and share our passion with the world! With a mobile app and subtitles in 150+ languages, literally billions of new fans are out there, waiting to get turned on by Korean dramas, Thai ghost stories, Japanese anime, or a host of other Asian film and TV series genres.
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