Netflix and LoveFilm have to be two of the biggest players in the UK streaming market. However, another company is looking to challenge them with the launch of its own service. Japanese online shopping website Rakuten is launching its own VOD service in the United Kingdom. Rakuten bought Wuaki, a Spanish streaming company, last year. Now it's headed for the UK.
"The UK is the first stop in Wuaki.tv's European expansion beyond the company's home market in Spain. Wuaki.tv has a long term aim of becoming a leader in the European VOD space, and is planning to complete launches in the main European countries, in addition to the UK and Spain, within the next 18-24 months," Wuaki CEO Jacinto Roca told TechCrunch. "A detailed plan will be confirmed in the next few months, following the UK launch and initial feedback and results in that market."
The site launches in beta today, while additional content and device support will be added over the next few months. The company's service will first be available via PC and Mac, with support for games consoles, smart TVs and tablets to follow over the summer. Customers can expect content from Warner Bros., Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, the BBC, and more when the service launches this summer. The service will employ both subscription and pay-per-view offerings, which will allow customers to supplement their subscription service with rentals and purchases.
"Streaming services have grown significantly in the UK, and we see a huge gap to offer a hybrid of the traditional subscription and a la carte models," Roca said in a press release. "Our Wuaki Plus subscription offers a quality service at an attractive monthly rate. However, we know many people also want to rent or buy the very latest new releases, which are usually not available on subscription streaming services immediately, and others simply prefer to have on-demand on an a la carte basis. With Wuaki users can have both, and pick-and-choose what they want, when they want."
Wuaki, pronounced 'ooh-acki,' currently has 600,000 customers in its native Spain.