With Netflix launching in France on September 15 with a strategy to not only offer an extensive catalog and awarding winning content, but also produce customized, high quality content for the French market (a French House of Cards anyone?), others are also setting their ambitions on conquering the French VOD market. Rakuten’s Wuaki.tv got a jump on Netflix by launching yesterday in France, making France its third market after launching in Spain in 2010 and the UK in 2013. Having successfully reached 1.5 million users, Wuaki.tv are hoping to speed up their growth through an ambitious international expansion plan. Italy and Germany will be the next markets they expand to, with 12 more, yet undisclosed, markets to follow.
Rather than making a big, Netflix type of splash early on, Wuaki.tv have elected for a soft launch via a 10k user private beta phase through end-September. Presumably, Rakuten will look to leverage its Price Minister user base to test and refine as needed their offer. Beta testers will have access to special privileges including, access to all films on their platform at a rental price of .99€ and between 4.99€ – 9.99€ to purchase. Users can request to join the beta here.
By end September, their service will then open up to the public, offering users an extensive range of movies, both international and Hollywood hits as well as French classics. No word yet as to whether access will be multi-device.
Rakuten is hoping that their Price Minister business will enable them to scale their VOD business more efficiently and successfully. With their single sign-on approach, users can access a wide range of Rakuten services available in their market including, of course, Price Minister and Wuaki.tv, Kobo, Viber and via a partnership deal, Pinterest. Price Minister has 20 million accounts and, including their other properties, Rakuten has access to 12 to 15 million users’ bank details alone, so there is a lot of there for them to attract a significant number of paying French VOD users to Wuaki.tv.