Viki: By the Fans, for the Fans

Viki: By the Fans, for the Fans

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Viki is a web portal that provides video content with crowdsourced multi-lingual subtitles. It relies on an active community of fans to add captions and subtitles in numerous languages to premium videos (movies, television shows) from around the world — thus opening up new markets and enabling new viewers to enjoy the content. Leveraging crowd-sourced subtitling enables Viki to distribute non- English, non-US television content to foreign markets quickly and cheaply.

The case begins as Nadine Yap, vice president at Viki, prepares for a major redesign of the website to meet the requirements of the growing company. She laments that when the company fixes bugs or makes improvements, community members often complain and even leave. The community of fans and ‘subbers’ is at the heart of what Viki does, so staying authentic is crucial to the company’s sustainability. How should Yap and Viki go about maintaining the delicate balance between being an authentic site that is supported by an informal community and a slick, commercial operation?

This case can be used to explain the characteristics of crowdsourcing, especially as it applies to online video entertainment. It can also enable understanding the appropriate communication strategies to walk the fine line between scaling and looking “corporate” on the one hand, and staying “authentic” to the fans on the other.

Inspection copies and teaching notes are available for university faculty. To receive an inspection copy and teaching note, please email with your registered faculty email ID and a link to your contact information on the faculty directory at your university as verification. An inspection copy and teaching note will then be sent to your faculty email account.