Rakuten’s Wuaki.TV plans to launch across Europe

Wuaki.TV, dubbed the ‘Spanish Netflix’, plans to launch across all major European territories, according to founder and CEO Jacinto Roca, the company’s founder and CEO.

The platform, which is owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, is already in talks with content providers ahead of rolling out in new territories.

Roca was speaking about Wuaki.TV at BBC Worldwide’s Showcase event. In response to a question from TBI about its international ambitions, he said: “Rakuten aims to be one of the top internet companies in the world and as part of that vision [Wuaki.TV] will have a presence in the key European countries.”

He did not specify where the service, which offers subscription and transaction-based services, would roll out first, but said it will be in the main European markets within the next three to four years.

“We haven’t decided exactly when and where yet, but we are in conversations with the studios in key markets.”

Rakuten has been aggressively acquiring and investing in media and entertainment companies. The e-commerce giant has recently acquired e-retailers Play.com in the UK, Priceminister in France and Ikeda in Brazil, as well as the Kobo e-book business. It has also invested US$100 million in photo-sharing website Pinterest.

“Rakuten is on the offensive,” Roca said. “Wuaki.TV is the video component of what they are building outside Japan. We will target Play.com users in the UK and do the same with Kobo users. In both cases members will be able to use their existing username and password for Wuaki.TV.”

Spain, Wuaki.TV’s domestic market, has one of the highest levels of illegal downloading of content anywhere and Roca said that the service he runs aims to “make content appealing for people who don’t consume content in the normal way”.

He added: “We’re focused on premium content, but for people that don’t want to pay a high subscription, have a price-sensitive approach and are maybe not interested in sport.”

Rakuten acquired Wuaki.TV last year at which time Roca said the deal would clear the way for the service to expand in Spain, it has content deals in place with partners including Disney, Fox, NBC Universal, Warner Bros.

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