FAQ: How Does Viki License Content?

Hello, Viki community! This is Tammy Nam, CEO of Viki. We often get questions about the licensing process, and upcoming titles. Below are some of the more common questions, and our best attempt at answering them as succinctly as possible.

What is the process for licensing a TV show or movie?

We’re continually developing relationships with TV stations, producers, and distributors from around the world. We license their content for Viki's desktop site, and increasingly, for Viki on mobile and Smart TV. We are in constant contact with them—conveying fan requests, and determining content availability, cost and geographic reach.

Typically, discussions start a month or more ahead of a show’s airing date, but we’ve had discussions that lasted for over a year. It can take a while because there are many details, including which countries we stream to, when, for how long and on which platforms—not to mention allowing fans to subtitle the content. It’s a complex balancing act, especially when getting rights for markets that are new to streaming, or where traditional media partners see online distribution as a threat, even though we’ve proven that it’s positive.

Sometimes deals fall apart at the last minute. We try to prevent this as much as possible, but it happens. At the end of the day, our interest is in serving our community and viewers. The process can be difficult and unpredictable—but we wouldn’t be doing it if it was easy, or if we didn’t believe in bringing down barriers between high-quality entertainment and fans, no matter where they are. It’s a tough fight, and your patience and support is deeply appreciated.

Why are some people allowed or not allowed to see certain shows?

Sometimes we’re not able to acquire a global license, or get the license while the content is airing on TV. This means we’re only able to show certain shows in select regions or countries, or show it when the content is no longer on TV in its home country. In some cases, another company may have exclusive rights to certain countries for a certain period of time, after which we do our best to get these shows.  When possible, our goal is to secure global licenses, because fans are everywhere. We’ve had shows that flopped in their home country, but found millions of fans on Viki.

Why have some channels had their videos removed or blocked, even after hours of subtitling work have gone into them?

We know the community puts a lot of hard work into segmenting and subbing videos, so it's disappointing when videos are unavailable. Here’s some context:

Viki has unofficial ‘Fan Channels’ that are often created months before Viki licenses their corresponding shows, guided by out Terms of Service. Fans input metadata, comments and posts to create a space for subtitling teams to organize before the show airs. Over time, some content owners have asked us to remove certain linked videos, or specific fan channels altogether. When we receive these requests, we remove the channel even though we never hosted the videos. We respect content owners’ wishes, consistent with our policy and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

If we can secure the rights to the linked content we'll upload the videos, but until then the channel team is free to design, organize, and post comments. The team can even link to YouTube videos, as long as the content or images don’t violate copyright ownership. Fan channels are a great way for us (and content owners) to see which shows you want to watch. Also, it's perfect for fans to meet and discuss what they love.

Why doesn't Viki have shows that are online somewhere else?

As mentioned earlier, there are some cases when other companies license content before us, and for an exclusive period. In these cases, we have to wait until their exclusive rights to expire before we can air the same content. We’ve been working tirelessly to close long-term partnerships with the best content owners around the world, because our goal is to bring you the best experience.

How can I suggest a show for you to license?

We always want to hear your suggestions. Please drop us a note through the Viki Help Center and let us know which shows you’d like to watch.

As you can see, globally licensing content is a complicated process—but the tide is shifting. Now, content owners are coming to us, and this is in large part because you’ve helped them understand the value of a globally engaged audience in a way they’ve never seen: segmenting, subtitling, commenting and sharing over 200 million words in more than 150 languages. I sincerely thank everyone for the hard work you've put into making this a place for people to enjoy and learn from global entertainment.