EXCLUSIVE: Rakuten looking at SVOD launches across international markets

Rakuten TV, the transactional video-on-demand service provider that currently operates in 12 international territories, is considering launching a version of the subscription video-on-demand service it currently provides only in Spain in other markets before the end of this year.

Jacinto Roca

CEO Jacinto Roca, speaking exclusively to DTVE, said that the SVOD offering would be “family-focused” and would complement Rakuten TV’s core proposition, which is to present itself as “the cinema at home” with a strong movies-on-demand offering.

“We are testing how to combine [SVOD] with the cinema at home,” Roca told DTVE. “We are considering a rollout in other territories for 2018, which will complement the cinema-at-home proposition.”

The Spanish subscription service is anchored in Rakuten’s deal with Disney. Roca said that Rakuten was open to enabling third-party content providers to deliver branded channels on the platform internationally.

“It will have a branded channel concept,” said Roca, adding that third-party content partners would “contribute their brand” while benefiting from the Rakuten platform.

In a wide-ranging interview, Roca said that Rakuten’s key vision remained “bringing the cinema experience at home”. For this to become a reality, he said there would need to be a shift in the windowing of on-demand rights for Hollywood and other movies.

“We think this will be the next big revolution in content. People don’t understand why the need to wait three or four months [to see a movie],” he said. “After one month the only winner is piracy. I see a big opportunity in moving the digital window closer to the cinema window.”

Roca cited the example of Korea as a market where this collapsing of windows is already a reality, without an adverse impact on revenues.

In order to push this forwards, Rakuten is co-investing in producing movies that it can then bring to its own platform. The company will invest around €2 million this year in two or three projects that will come to fruition in the second half, according to Roca.

“We are going to co-invest in movie productions to accelerate the created of this reduced window between cinema and digital,” he said. “We can build a case study to show that there is no damage as the distribution window gets closer and that the only loser will be piracy.”

For the full interview with Jacinto Roca, click here