Tony Talks #16: Me and Rakuten TV

The age of streaming is well and truly upon us, guys.

This, you already know. You no doubt subscribe to a wealth of different providers. If you’re in the States, you’re overloaded with cable channels alongside streaming giants. If you’re in the UK, satellite TV and the dominance of Sky has given way to Netflix or Amazon Prime, and soon the new big movers and shakers on the immediate horizon – Apple TV+ and Disney+. You even have, tucked away within Prime, a range of sub-channels depending on your taste – Mubi, StarzPlay, BFI, Shudder and if you want a reality TV fix, Hayu (though I doubt many readers of this blog are subscribers there…).

I’d like you to pause for a minute or two and consider another kid on the block. He’s been there for a while, lurking on your plasma smart TV’s, quietly waiting for a chance to impress. His name is Rakuten and he’s actually got some skin in the game, I’ve found recently. Here’s why.

Firstly, you should know that Rakuten is actually Japanese, more specifically a major Japanese e-commerce conglomerate. And much like Amazon’s sales or Apple’s tech forces diversifying into TV content, Rakuten TV is a similar subsidiary beast.

Originally and later adopting the users of Talk Talk TV Store (formerly themselves Blinkbox), Rakuten TV doesn’t quite produce content in the same way Amazon does, even though Rakuten is known widely as the “Amazon of Japan”. It works more as a provider. You can stream all kinds of cinema and television but it does not work on a subscription model, a la Netflix. Much like historic Apple iTunes, you rent or buy content on the platform, with the option to redeem vouchers, create wish lists, all the usual refinements. What stands out to me personally is the content.

Rakuten just seems to get some of the newer, bigger pictures first, certainly to rent. Avengers: Endgame was a key example and as I surf now, I find pictures on there which are some way from debuting on numerous other streaming services – Aladdin, X-Men: Dark Phoenix etc… and while you can’t quite beat the subscription model some of the others provide, Rakuten TV might now be my go to for any new content I want to rent. It also looks crystal clear with a great 4K transfer that even for older pictures—I watched the Arnie-starring The Last Stand on there recently—produces a quality visual.

So give it a try, is my advice. It could easily end up buried amongst your range of streaming services and TV icons, given the wealth of choice now available, but Rakuten TV has impressed me lately. It’s well put together with fresh new content and lots of choice, plus at times it holds pictures to rent—older pictures—which the other services don’t. To me that’s a major bonus.

Hope you’re all having a great week, especially on Mental Health Awareness Day today. Give me a shout on here or via my social media pages at any time if you’re struggling and want someone to talk to – you’re never alone.

Tony x

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