Japanese company Rakuten Inc. officially launched a beta of its Wuaki.tv video streaming service in the UK today and analysts suggest it may rival already established providers such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
Wuaki.tv will kick off its service with an introductory subscription of just $4.50 per month, or viewers can simply pay as they go. The service will offer thousands of hours of movie and TV content including titles from major studios such as Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS), Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (NASDAQ:FOX) and of course, the BBC. Originally a Barcelona-based company, Wuaki, with a loyal following of more than 600,000 users, was acquired by Rakuten last year. Wuaki’s CEO, Jacinto Roca, said Wuaki.tv will first be available on any connected PC or Mac.
However, support for game consoles, smartTVs and tablets is scheduled to follow as the service rolls out of beta during summer. “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 video-on-demand 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,” Roca said. “A detailed plan will be confirmed in the next few months, following the UK launch and initial feedback and results in that market.”