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Japanese Company Launches SVOD Site in the U.K.

12 Jul, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel


Wuaki.tv, which offers both streaming and transactional options, aims to take on Netflix and Amazon’s LoveFilm

Amazon and Netflix’s stranglehold on the subscription video-on-demand market in Western Europe just got some competition with the beta launch of a movie streaming service owned by Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten.

Wuaki.tv, which was formed in 2009 and is based in Barcelona, Spain, is offering a special (50% off) monthly rental plan for 2.99 pounds ($4.50), in addition to transactional VOD  and sellthrough for new releases. The service, which Rakuten acquired last year, can be accessed through a PC or Mac computer — with tablet access forthcoming.

Content partners include the BBC, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, among others. Content available to rent or buy includes Disney's Oz The Great and Powerful and Lincoln, in addition to TV shows “The Tudors” and “Doctor Who.”

"Streaming services have grown significantly in the U.K., and we see a huge gap to offer a hybrid of the traditional subscription and a la carte models," Jacinto Roca, CEO of Wuaki.tv, said in a statement.

He said transactional and sellthrough options allow users to watch or acquire new releases not available on SVOD on street date.

"Wuaki users can pick-and-choose what they want, when they want,” Roca said.

The United Kingdom is proving to be ground zero for the digital evolution of home entertainment in Europe with Netflix, LoveFilm, Sky and the BBC offering on-demand platforms. More than 37% of U.K. adults with Internet access watch repurposed episodic TV programming online. Some 5% of households own a connected TV, according to British-based research firm Ofcom.

"We've already seen huge success with the hybrid model in Spain, with over 600,000 users, and believe we'll see similar success in the U.K. and other European markets,” Roca said. “It is a competitive market, but we believe putting the consumer in control through our one-stop-shop solution for VOD will give us an edge.”

The CEO said Wuaki.tv would be adding apps to support smart TVs, games consoles and tablets in the near future.

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