Japan's Rakuten Launches Online Video Service Wuaki.tv in U.K.

Oblivion Trailer Screengrab - H 2013

Oblivion Trailer Screengrab - H 2013

The new entrant has been in beta service and aims to challenge Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Tesco's Blinkbox in Britain before rolling out across Europe.

LONDON – The U.K. online video marketplace has its latest competitor with Japan's e-commerce giant Rakuten launching Wuaki.tv to take on Netflix, Amazon's LoveFilm and Tesco's Blinkbox.

Billing itself as a "game-changer" in the sector, Wuaki.tv, from the company billed as the Amazon of Japan, is a hybrid business model offering users a choice between a la carte rental or purchase of the latest movies and TV series, or a monthly subscription to the Wuaki Selection service, offering unlimited streaming of an extensive selection of movie and TV content, all from a single service.

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Wuaki.tv believes this "selection" subscription of movies and TV shows is the key to its success as it offers access to a "hand-picked catalog of blockbuster movies and TV shows that is regularly refreshed each week."

At launch, films offered include Star Trek: Into Darkness, Iron Man 3 and Oblivion in its new releases selection, alongside a dedicated Disney Movies on demand section offering Up, Lady And The Tramp and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, among others.

On the TV front, there are six seasons of Dexter, three of Downton Abbey and eight seasons of Grey's Anatomy among the choices.

Wuaki.tv believes a subscription should provide access to a selection of content that users want to watch again and again -- rather than a high volume of content that is not viewed regularly. This approach, combined with the additional option to rent and purchase the latest blockbuster movies and shows, is what makes Wuaki.tv unique, the company says.

"Our unique hybrid model is what really sets us apart, along with the quality of the content we program every week in the Wuaki selection,” said Jacinto Roca, founder and CEO of Wuaki.tv.

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"For us, quality is vitally important. We started Wuaki.tv with a clear objective to bring quality content to all households in an easy and affordable way. We really want to be a game-changer for this industry, and try to reinvent the rules to better accommodate what customers really want from an online video service," he added.

The service launched in Spain and is planned to roll out the across Europe.

Wuaki.tv supports streaming movies and TV shows on PCs and laptops, tablets, Samsung smartTVs and through the Xbox LIVE service. The company said it will also be adding more devices before the end of the year.     

A Wuaki Selection subscription is priced at $7.99 (£4.99) per month as a special launch promotion, providing unlimited access to the company’s extensive and regularly-refreshed selection of content.