June 13, 2012, Barcelona and Tokyo - Rakuten, the world’s third largest e-commerce company, today announced it acquired Spanish streaming and video on demand business, Wuaki.tv. The acquisition will see Rakuten further extend its global reach as it enters the Spanish market for the first time.
Founded in 2009, Wuaki.tv is headquartered in Barcelona and offers premium content over the Internet directly to Smart TVs. The business has existing content distribution agreements with Hollywood majors as well as local studios, and partnership agreements with leading TV manufacturers to incorporate its technology into their televisions.
Following recent investments in e-commerce and social media platforms, the Wuaki.tv acquisition represents a significant step forward in building out the Rakuten ecosystem and marks the business’ fourth European acquisition in just two years.
Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, explained the strategy behind the acquisition: “The Wuaki.tv management team and technology are both very strong, as is the number and strength of its relationships across the video and hardware industries. We saw synergies in the ambition of both businesses to expand internationally while video on demand extends our digital goods offering. We also both believe the opportunity for video on demand services across Europe, as well as further afield, to still be in its infancy – particularly when looking at media consumption via mobile connected devices and eReaders.”
Jacinto Roca, founder and CEO of Wuaki.tv, comments: “We are already seeing a significant uptake of services due to increasing numbers of connected TVs and mobile connected devices and believe that, ultimately, online video will replace traditional pay-for-TV services. This agreement will allow us to expand the successful Wuaki.tv offering, both in terms of services and geographical reach.”
Video on demand uptake was a hot topic at the recent Cannes Film Festival, with analyst firm, Screen Digest, declaring that the market opportunity remains significant for the wider industry, particularly outside of the US.*
Rakuten ranks among the top 10 internet companies in the world. Among its numerous online properties, its flagship B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) model e-commerce site Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world's largest by sales. Its global presence has been reinforced through the acquisitions of eReader, Kobo, leading online marketplaces Buy.com (US), PriceMinister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland) and Play.com (UK), and investments in Pinterest, Ozon.ru and AHA Life. Whereas other marketplaces may compete directly with sellers, Rakuten’s model seeks to empower merchants to deliver Omotenashi, a Japanese high service mindset, which helps sellers create lasting relationships with customers.
*Richard Broughton, head of broadband for IHS Screen Digest, said that the American VOD market for feature films topped $1.8 billion in 2011, whereas Western Europe delivered just $900 million.
Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ:4755), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer- and business-focused services including e-commerce, eReading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. For more information, visit: http://global.rakuten.com/group