Review: Viki


Looking for something a little different to watch? Viki opens up countless television shows, films, and music videos from around the world. And you don't have to worry about understanding the language, as Viki is built around subtitles, so you can watch and read away!

Author: Viki Mobile

Version Reviewed:

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Taking inspiration from 'video' and 'wiki', Viki is a large multi-platform community that is primarily built around foreign language television shows and providing unofficial but accurate fan translations.

Part of the key challenge here is matching up subtitles with the viewing experience, and this is where having a smartphone client is a good move. Many of the shows that are subtitled can be streamed for free, so matching up a mobile screen, with streaming media, is where the Windows Phone client for Viki comes in. Naturally I'm going to recommend an unlimited data plan or using Wi-fi to keep your costs down.

 Viki Viki

The app itself is a free download, and I couldn't see any income stream in the application, be it interstitial ads or in-app advertising. I suspect that the mobile clients are being used to raise interest, and the real income likely comes from syndicating the mash-up of the the creative-commons subtitles and programming to mainstream broadcasters.

Viki is a well-backed venture, with funding from a number of Silicon Valley VCs, SK Planet (SK Telecom) and BBC Worldwide, which means that video content on the site will be legal to watch. This does mean that you might be restricted in what content you can watch depending on your geographic location, but it does mean that the site and the community is not going to disappear in the middle of the night or be hit by by debilitating copyright claims.

While the community side of Viki is a strong one, there's another use for the application, and one that will mean I likely keep the application on my phone for some months to come: Viki is a fantastic source of content that is slightly off the beaten track.

Okay, you're not going to get Doctor Who or CSI through this app, but I've always been one for more unusual films and programmes from around the world. Viki hands me both of these, with older programs from South Korean and Japan featuring prominently.

 Viki Viki

There's also a huge amount of manga (adult cartoon series, primarily from Japan), which is a genre I'm very comfortable watching with subtitles, so that's another reason for me to enjoy Viki. I have less of a burning desire in my heart for subtitle translations on my music videos (that's what years of following the Eurovision Song Contest does to your musical ear).

Not surprisingly, one of the featured videos in the main view is 'how to subtitle', in essence how to use the application to create content for the Viki community. While this is a nice insight into the world of Viki, it's important to note that Viki on Windows Phone is for the consumption of content only. You can't make or edit the subtitles on the handset. This is purely a browser and viewer-based application.


One thing that Viki does not do that I would like to see in a future version, is integrate itself into the music+video hub. The app does not show up as an application, nor does the history view in the hub include any media that you've been watching through the app.

This is probably because the app is using a customised version of the built in video player to accommodate the streaming media from the Viki server. You can't push the app to the background or it will pause the playback, which makes some sense as the subtitling is the visual strength of the app and the key selling point, but it doesn't feel like the right way of doing things when using the app to listen to music videos.

I'd also like to see something more in the application than just the streaming video. The ability to mark favourite videos and series needs to be there as a matter of urgency, because I shouldn't have to resort to noting down a show on a bit of paper so I can find it again. Live tiles for a single show or a series would be a nice touch as well, all of which are features that Windows Phone users have come to expect as a matter of course.


Nevertheless Viki is a fascinating mobile media application. It keeps things very personal, which is always a good thing on a mobile phone, and it broadens my own horizons in terms of films and television shows that I can watch. The appeal might be a bit more limited than something like the BBC iPlayer, but that's fine. For those that like this sort of thing, Viki is a useful tool. It's a good start, and while I'm looking forward to some UI updates and some key features, there's enough here to keep me interested and using the app.

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