×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rakuten TV Launches in More Than 30 New Territories as Part of Global Ambitions (EXCLUSIVE)

On-demand service Rakuten TV more than tripled its distribution in Europe in one fell swoop Wednesday, launching in more than 30 new territories, company founder and CEO Jacinto Roca has told Variety. The VOD player has partnered with several major smart-TV manufacturers for the rollouts and is also available over-the-top in the new countries, including the Nordics and large parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

In total, Rakuten TV is now available in more than 40 countries in Europe, including Spain, where it is headquartered, and France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., where it was already available. Roca said it will set up new offices, likely in Sweden and Poland, to service the new countries in which it has launched. The new territories all went live Wednesday after more than a year of planning and preparation.

Rakuten TV originally launched as Wuaki.tv in Spain, and was re-branded after being acquired by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Roca said the launches are a key step on the path to becoming a “true global alternative” to the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Unlike those platforms, it is focused on transaction- rather than subscription-based video-on-demand.

“The first phase was when we were Wuaki, the second when we were acquired by Rakuten and we proved we could be not only a Spanish but also a European service,” Roca said. “I think now is a third stage where we are [on our way to] becoming a truly global service – joining the class that can compete on a global scale. There will be more expansion in the months and years to come.”

The smart-TV collaborations are with Samsung, LG, Philips and Hisense.  Each of them add a branded Rakuten TV button to their remote controls in the same way that Netflix has done with manufacturer partners.

In tune with the smart-TV firms, which are seeking to sell 8K sets, Rakuten wants to bring movies in the ultra-high-definition format to its service. “That’s something we are working on with key manufacturers and content providers, to make movies available in 8K,” Roca said. “It’s a project we are going to try and make a reality in the second half of this year.”

The new European services will look very similar from one territory to the next, but not exactly the same given the country-by-country rights issues. There is a selection of big-ticket movies from the Hollywood studios on each iteration, as well as local fare, as will soon be required by European lawmakers.

The European expansion comes as the on-demand platform also moves deeper into originals, after starting with World War II picture “Hurricane,” starring Iwan Rheon (“Game of Thrones”), and Spanish movie “Alegria Tristeza.” Three to four new original films are coming later this year.

Roca is a strong advocate for day-and-date releases and shorter windows. “We strongly believe customers and also producers will benefit from that, and also the cinema chains and digital players will not suffer damage in terms of their revenues on theatrical,” he said.

More Digital

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Facebook on Defensive Over Fake Pelosi Video

    Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her [...]

  • Little-Black-Mirror-Maia-Mitchell

    Netflix Launching 'Little Black Mirror' Video Series Starring Maia Mitchell, Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Juanpa Zurita and More

    To promote next month’s premiere of “Black Mirror” season 5, Netflix is launching a short video series — “Little Black Mirror,” with a cast that includes an ensemble of Latinx social-media stars. The three “mini-stories,” aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, are inspired by the tech-dystopian universe of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ anthology series. “Little Black [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snap in Talks to License Music to Let Snapchat Users Embed Songs in Posts

    Snap wants to up Snapchat’s music game. The company has been in negotiations with music companies including the big three — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — to license song catalogs for the Snapchat app, according to two industry sources familiar with the talks, confirming a Wall Street Journal report. [...]

  • T-mobile - Netflix - John Legere

    T-Mobile Passes Netflix Price Hike Through to Subscribers

    T-Mobile is getting ready to raise prices for subscribers who have taken advantage of its “Netflix On Us” promotion: The mobile carrier will begin charging existing customers who have participated in the promotion an additional $2 per month to account for Netflix’s recent price increase. Consumers will see their bill go up starting on 6/2. [...]

  • Oona King

    Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

    Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion. King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content