The competition between Internet TV and movie services just got a little more fierce in the UK Friday with the launch of Rakuten’s Wuaki.tv (pronounced ____?).
“But Netflix and Amazon’s Lovefilm are already in the UK,” you say. Precisely!
The move comes just one month after Rakuten acquired the Barcelona-based Wuaki.tv (I’m going with “Wocky”). The service already had distribution agreements with the big Hollywood studios as well as local studios, as well as partnership agreements with TV, gaming console, and tablet manufacturers to incorporate Wuaki.tv’s technology into their products. Founded in 2009, Wuaki.tv already has 600,000 users in Spain.
Like Amazon, Wuaki.tv (maybe it’s just “Wacky” and I’m overcomplicating things…) is a hybrid model in which customers can subscribe or rent/purchase individual titles, which means the selection will be much more diverse than it would be if it were just a subscription service. Clearly, Wuaki.tv took a note from Netflix.
Indeed, the competitive challenge it poses to the established bases of Lovefilm and Netflix is real. Wuaki.tv’s catalog isn’t just a few old ‘80s titles (like Amazon Prime was for the longest time). The site boasts a wide array of new releases, classic titles, popular TV series, and more. New releases include Oz the Great and Powerful, Anna Karenina, The Host, Cloud Atlas, Spring Breakers, Silver Linings Playbook, Star Trek, the latest Wolverine whatever-it’s-called movie, and more.
So if I want to watch Spring Breakers and see a newer, trashier Vanessa Hudgens get her duckface on, I have the option of renting or buying, but not subscribing. See?
"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," said Jacinto Roca, Founder and CEO of Wuaki.tv, in a statement. "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.”
Maybe it’s “Oo-acky?”
Wuaki.tv Plus subscriptions will be priced at £5.99 a month, though if users sign up over the summer, they can subscribe for £2.99—for life. Play.com (the UK e-commerce company that Rakuten acquired back in 2011) users will also get a 50% coupon for their first two movie purchases.
The service is currently in beta as it adds more titles and support for more connected devices over the summer. Rakuten plans to roll out Wuaki.tv to other European territories throughout 2013.