Viki Scoops Soompi Off CrunchyRoll’s Hands with Plans for Bigger Global Push
Viki, a self-proclaimed “Hulu” for Asian dramas that commands over 40 million monthly uniques, has acquired English-language Asian pop culture news and fan site Soompi from The Chernin Group-owned anime-focused video platform, CrunchyRoll. According to Tammy H. Nam, Viki’s chief executive officer, the deal, which clocked at a sub-$10 millon price tag, originated between friends as Nam has long known CrunchyRoll CEO Kun Gao.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with CrunchyRoll and The Chernin Group, and I’ve been friends with Kun Gao for years now, so in many ways this was opportunistic for us, especially as CrunchyRoll moves away from its focus on the Korean category,” said Nam of the deal origin. Nam also noted that the primary reason behind acquiring Soompi was the site’s strength in creating fan-driven news and fan forums, as well as the engaged community. Soompi currently reaches over 7 million monthly readers, who according to Comscore, only barely overlaps with Viki’s existing audience base.
Viki had also already been in development on a news and engagement product so from Nam’s perspective the deal was the perfect win-win and an opportunity to have a jump start on news and fan-driven content in a category already core to Viki’s success.
“I started Soompi in 1998 as a passion project because I wanted to create a space for fans of Korean pop culture,” said Soompi founder Susan Kang. “With Viki and Soompi’s shared core value of community, I feel like we’ve finally found our perfect home.”
Though the two sites will operate independently for the time being, Viki has plans for global expansion into other languages and categories as well, likely South American countries where the streaming site already has a strong following, or more unexpected destinations like Romania. Soompi’s existing infrastructure and skill for building hyper-engaged content will be applied across these verticals.
Like, Hulu, Viki is an advertising and subscription service that allows users to view content for free with ads or without ads for a monthly fee of $3.99. The business was acquired in late 2014 by Internet e-commerce giant, Rakuten. Similar site, DramaFever, was also acquired in the same year by Softbank Group.