News moves forward with ambitious Euro-expansion plans, the Spain-based OTT service owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, will launch in France, Germany and Italy next year, with a further 10 European territory launches planned for 2015, Simon Homent, UK content director confirmed at the OTTtv World Summit yesterday. 

Rakuten already has a presence in four of the five countries in which will be present in Europe in 2014. Countries pencilled in for launches in 2015 include the Nordic markets.

Homent said that the company had entered the UK market after its launch in Spain with the object of striking multi-territory content deals in mind. While it operates both subscription VoD and transactional service in Spain and the UK, it will initially launch only transactional services first and will launch subscription services only on “a case by case basis”, said Homent.

“With SVoD you start to tread on the toes of free-to-air contracts but with transactional services you don’t get that. Beyond the first three months it’s fairly straightforward,” he said. launched in the UK in beta in June in partnership with sister company The service came out of beta in September and is now available on the Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Xbox platforms among others. plans to add more devices next year, including Roku, said Homent.

Spain’s service is available on a number of additional devices including PlayStation. However the main focus for the service is smart TVs, said Homent. He said has about 900,000 users in Spain, with a smaller number than that subscribing as well as taking transactional content.

Homent said faces strong competiton from multiple players in the UK, but that its offer of both new releases on a transactional basis and subscription programming in a single place differentiates it from rival OTT services, with consumers generally unable to gain access to both from a single source. “What we see from a customer’s perspective is that they don’t understand the windowing system. From a user perspective it is quite frustrating,” said Homent.On the transactional side, offers content from the Hollywood majors as well as BBC Worldwide and ITV for purchase or rental.

The service currently offers a limited selection of subscription titles. “We don’t believe we need thousands of titles. We have less than 1,000 film and TV titles but…there is no filler [material],” said Homent.

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