Rakuten TV wants to become a true global alternative to Amazon Video and Netflix, and has ambitious plans to help that become a reality. Along with a rapid expansion into new countries, it seems 8K content is also part of the strategy.
Jacinto Roca, Rakuten TV CEO, told Variety that the company hopes to offer 8K movies "in the second half of this year". The service already offers HD and 4K content.
Rakuten TV has also launched in more than 30 new territories today and announced new partnerships with TV manufacturers including Hisense, LG, Philips and Samsung. Those partnerships will see a dedicated Rakuten TV button appear on selected TV remote controls, a strategy also adopted by Netflix.
Amazon Video and Netflix have grown quickly to dominate online viewing, with rapid adoption of new TV technologies such as 4K and HDR proving to be a significant part of both services' strategies. Now it seems Rakuten wants to grab a piece of the pie by jumping feet first into 8K video.
LG, Samsung and Sony, amongst other TV brands, announced new 8K TVs at the start of the year, with the first Samsung sets now on sale (you can read our review of the Samsung Q900R 8K TV if you're thinking of taking the plunge). A predictable problem with this TV was the current lack of 8K content, so Rakuten's plans could be a step in the right direction.
Rakuten TV focuses on rental or purchase of TV shows and films, as opposed to the all-you-can-eat monthly streaming packages proposed by most video services. Promising "the widest UHD 4K catalogue", 4K films cost around £4.99 to rent or up to £13.99 to buy. We can only assume 8K content would come at a premium.
Rakuten TV is now available in more than 40 countries in Europe, including the UK, and the service also has plans to move into creating its own original content, with Roca promising "there will be more expansion in the months and years to come". We will watch this space with interest...