Rakuten TV Review: No-Strings TV Designed Around You


Summary

Our Verdict

Rakuten TV


An easy-to-use online outlet to rent the latest movies and shows, with the added bonus of loyalty points to keep you coming back for more.

 
Overall 84%
Content
Usability
Value

As technology evolves and changes, sometimes everything old is new again. A perfect example of that is Rakuten TV, who after going through a stage as a traditional streaming platform, have gone back to the future. They now resemble a traditional video store, letting users buy or rent shows, movies and other content on demand. Formerly Wuaki TV, Rakuten TV is a simple, no obligation way to access and enjoy content when you want and however you want.

The Facts

  • On-demand video: Films, TV series, reality TV, stand-up specials and much more
  • No contracts, no set-up costs, no obligations, no membership fees
  • Good value on renting and buying
  • Available on all devices
  • Points system rewards regular users

For modern TV viewers, there are more options than ever. These seem to change and evolve all the time, which can be a tad overwhelming. This is a problem when deciding to sign a 12-month or even a 24-month contract. This is where Rakuten TV comes in. Their model is simple: on-demand movies, TV series, and other content for sale or rent. Pay a small fee to buy or rent access to any of these excellent titles – and you won’t be liable for anything more.

Simply pick a film, TV series or other content and pay a small, one-off fee. There’s no membership charge or annual fee. Think of it like an online video store, but with a more extensive library and immediate sign-up and download (that means no trips to the store).

Rakuten TV is available on all devices, meaning you can take it on the go. Simply pair your device with the Rakuten TV site. Then there’s the Rakuten points, which you accrue the more content you watch. You can then cash these points in for new content. This is a great way of rewarding you for watching more content – which of course helps out both parties. They don’t have unique content like some of their competitors, but they do have one of the more extensive libraries going around.

What makes Rakuten unique?

As the name may suggest, Rakuten TV is the television arm of Rakuten, a Japanese electronics and entertainment company that is growing its presence in Europe. You might have seen their name before – they’ve got a high-profile sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona, which fits as their European base is Spain. They’ve got 400,000 users in the UK, in addition to 600,000 in Spain and plenty across other European countries.

Formerly Wuaki, Rakuten has gone through a range of changes in recent years as they’ve grown their television service and adapted it to new markets. One of the most significant upheavals took place within the last year, where the company dropped streaming from their services. Now, they’re purely a video-on-demand provider, which basically means they’re like a video store but based online. This means you get the convenience and choice of a video store but without leaving your house.

The on-demand aspect also means there is no need to commit to long contracts like with other streaming providers. Instead, just pick a title and rent or buy it immediately. There are no weekly, monthly or yearly membership fees – just simply sign up online and you’ll have access immediately. The one complaint that we’ve heard on a few occasions is that purchased films have a tendency to delete themselves after three years. Rakuten implies that purchases last forever, so it’s uncertain at this point whether or not this is a glitch experienced by several users or whether it’s a policy. If so it would be a big problem, particularly for collectors.

Rakuten’s offerings

Up until recently, Rakuten operated in a similar fashion to the big streaming sites. However, they recently dropped their streaming options and have focused on their video-on-demand service. If you’re not familiar with video on demand, it’s basically like a traditional bricks and mortar video shop – except without pretty much every aspect of visiting the video shop which we didn’t like. Be kind, rewind, anyone?

Instead, you can get access to thousands of movies, shows and other specials – many of which are in ultra-high definition (UHD) – immediately and on any device. You’ll have the choice to rent or to buy the offerings, depending on release dates and other factors. Generally, new releases will only be available for rental, while older movies and shows may be purchased.

Another advantage of Rakuten is the low cost. Although the amount you will pay differs depending on which film – newer content is more expensive – the prices vary from cheap to reasonable. For rental, the costs are comparable to video store prices, while purchase is usually just a few pounds more. Even better, you know that the film will be provided in excellent quality and quite often with a range of other special features and add-ons.

What are Rakuten TV’s Best Features?

  • No monthly fees or lock-in contracts required
  • Library consists of thousands of shows, movies, which include new releases

The best of British?

And while Rakuten is a Japanese company, they’re committed to British content. They’ve got loads of home grown British programming, from TV shows to films. From massive new movie hits fresh out of the cinema to classic British TV shows, they’re all available on Rakuten. There’s a specific section on their website dedicated to British new releases while you can also watch classic British TV to your heart’s content.

Rakuten Points

Another unique aspect of Rakuten is Rakuten Points, which you accrue every time you rent a film or show. Over time, these build up and can be used to rent new content. It’s a simple and effective way to encourage loyalty by rewarding their customers for sticking around. It’s also not a convoluted process or one which requires you to do the legwork. Instead, you simply have a points balance which goes up over time until you cash it in to watch great new content. Simple and easy.

Devices and payment

Rakuten TV reflects modern television usage by being compatible with all devices. This includes Smart TVs, PCs and Macs, Tablets and Smartphones, Consoles, Google Chromecast and Set Top Boxes. Once you’ve rented or bought a title, it will be viewable on all of your devices – take it with you on the train to work or put it on a tablet for the kids in the back of the car. You can also be comfortable that whatever operating system you’re running – whether it be Android, Windows or Apple – that Rakuten will be compatible. Payment can be made with all usual credit cards as well as PayPal.

Rakuten TV customer service and support

Rakuten TV has an extensive online portal which has loads of information and will be able to answer many of your frequently answered questions. This is all the well as they don’t list a phone number on their website – instead, they ask you to fill in a contact form and they’ll get back to you. They also list an email address, but it works according to the same principle.

The Good

  • No contracts and immediate access to great content
  • Compatibility across all devices

The Gotchas

  • Moderate to heavy users likely to pay more
  • No unique content

Rakuten TV

Rakuten TV’s video-on-demand service gets you access to great quality content whenever you want – and without any membership fees or other obligations. If you’re a heavy user, Rakuten TV is likely to cost you more than a streaming service with a flat rate. But if you only watch movies and TV series occasionally – or if the title you want isn’t incorporated into your streaming service – then Rakuten TV is a great option.

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