If you’ve picked up a TV remote in Europe recently, chances are you’ve seen the Rakuten TV logo in the form of a prominently placed button. Press it and you will be transported to a vast world of streamable content — as of last month, that world is vaster than ever before.
Rakuten TV recently announced the launch of 90 new linear TV channels, curating everything from blockbuster thrillers to regional news ― all for the low, low price of free. It’s an announcement that has both viewers and advertisers across the continent excited.
A pioneering presence in Europe
Over the past decade, Rakuten TV has established itself in living rooms all around Europe. In 2019, it became the first service in Europe to offer all three of the big VODs (that’s ‘video-on-demand’) ― transactional (TVOD), subscription (SVOD) and advertising (AVOD). TVOD allows users to purchase individual movies or programs; SVOD lets users sign up for unlimited access to content libraries; and AVOD allows access to free content supported by ads.
This unprecedented freedom of choice has been a major selling point for Rakuten TV. Movie enthusiasts, for example, have long turned to Rakuten TV’s high-quality TVOD service to watch fresh-from-the-theater flicks in 4K UHD, while its AVOD offerings have given audiences access to a vast library of content completely for free.
“Right now, the market is oversaturated with paid content…. This model provides an alternative for our audience, allowing access to quality content at no cost.”Jacinto Roca, Rakuten TV founder and CEO
Now, by launching headfirst into linear programming, Rakuten TV is giving users even more choice, and continuing its pioneering role in the European market.
“With the launch of 90 free linear channels on our platform, we are once again making a breakthrough in entertainment consumption,” declares Rakuten TV founder and CEO Jacinto Roca. “The goal is to position Rakuten TV as the European leader in this field.”
More than simple curation
For many, linear programming evokes an image of pre-internet TV ― gargantuan analog sets with but a few channels to cycle through. However, Roca sees Rakuten TV’s move into the space not as a step back, but rather as an opportunity to update a classic format.
“At a time when the entertainment sector is going through an unprecedented transformation and consumption habits are changing rapidly, we are revolutionizing our business model to meet users, advertisers and market needs at once.”
When the service is fully operational, European smart TV owners will have access to 90 different curated channels at the press of a button, covering everything from documentaries and lifestyle programs to kids’ entertainment and blockbuster hits.
But Roca and his team are doing much more than simply hosting existing channels on the Rakuten TV platform.
“We are not just partnering with the top global content creators for the launch of existing channels,” Roca reveals. “We are also creating joint ventures to launch brand new channels in collaboration with renowned media groups, like ¡Hola! Play and Planeta Junior in Spain, LEGO® and Filmrise in the UK, Bizzaro Movies and Cinema Segreto in Italy and L’atelier des chefs in France.”
Viewers will have access to major news outfits such as Bloomberg, Euronews and Reuters, as well as content from international brands such as Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired: collaborations that promise to drive entirely new content to the platform.
Rakuten TV will also provide a number of its own curated channels covering specific genres such as action, drama, regional films, as well as Rakuten TV original and exclusive content.
Classic format, new tricks
Roca is aware that by investing heavily in AVOD, Rakuten TV is breaking away from its peers.
“Right now, the market is oversaturated with paid content,” he reasons. “This model provides an alternative for our audience, allowing access to quality content at no cost.”
Advertisers are excited about the potential of Rakuten TV’s approach, too. Where regular TV ads are something of a blunt instrument (great for products with universal appeal, but an inefficient tool for targeting specific audiences), online advertising offers up a level of granularity that can help deliver relevant audiences for even the most niche of products.
“Bringing brands unique discoverability, this new opportunity combines the targeting and tracking capabilities of digital ad-formats with the beauty of big-screen vision.”
“Our philosophy, since the foundation of the company, is to continuously innovate within the entertainment industry. This is a major step towards the growth of our unique business proposition, to offer a wide range of content for all tastes, and suitable for all pockets.”Jacinto Roca, Rakuten TV founder and CEO
Entertainment for everyone
Already in 90 million households and 43 countries, Rakuten TV isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Roca and his team are getting ready for even more growth in the coming years.
“Our philosophy, since the foundation of the company, is to continuously innovate within the entertainment industry,” he says. “This is a major step towards the growth of our unique business proposition, to offer a wide range of content for all tastes, and suitable for all pockets.”