What is Rakuten TV? Full Review

There’s so many streaming options out there nowadays that you couldn’t possibly begin to know all of them. Whilst Netflix are still the dominant force when it comes to streaming, there are a ton of competitors out there for it that you might want to consider too.

One of these in competition with Netflix is the brand Rakuten TV, whose name probably rings familiar with a lot of folks. If you own even a small smart TV, then you might see a Rakuten button on the remote control of your device.

But what exactly is Rakuten TV, and is it worth you checking it out? Or are there other much better options out there for you to pick? Well, we’ll take a look at it and see.

What is Rakuten TV? – Review

Rakuten TV is an online film and TV show streaming service found on the majority of new TVs in the UK. You can rent series on a season by season basis, as well as having access to new films via a paid subscription. They also have a small catalogue of free movies to watch too.

With many people looking for ways to get rid of their TV licence, Rakuten TV is potentially another way to do this. You can access shows in both standard quality and high quality too, which is useful if you’ve got a 4K smart TV.

The majority of the shows and films on the service are available on other services – Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime are the dominant forces in the UK. And between them, they do have most of the market covered.

However, Rakuten TV could prove to be a good supplementary app to have if you’ve run through all the box sets on other platforms. There has been various different free TV platforms released in the last few years, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. So, let’s look at Rakuten a little more.

How much is Rakuten TV?

If you’re wondering how much Rakuten TV costs, it’s hard to give you a definite amount. Whilst the app itself is free and there are some free shows on there, they tend to charge on a per film or per series basis. This makes it pretty expensive for the majority of people in the UK.

For example, if you wanted to season one of Westworld, you’d need to pay £16.99 – that’s for just one season. So for TV series, it’s not as good of an option as monthly fee services, as the costs will add up pretty quickly.

For films, it might fare a little better, especially as it gets newer films which you’ll need to pay for anywhere. Films can range from just a few quid all the way up to £13.99 for new releases.

However, like I said, there are some pretty good freebies on there too. And it costs nothing for you to use the app itself, so there’s no harm checking it out.

How does Rakuten TV work?

First and foremost, Rakuten TV is primarily and rental and one time fee service. This means that for many of the shows and films that are on the platform, you’ll need to pay per film that you watch. This is kind of the opposite of services like Netflix, which try to provide you as much value as they can for your £7.99 or £10.99 per month.

Like Netflix, they tend to have a lot of new releases when it comes to films, and there are many different TV shows on Rakuten TV are available too.

What films and shows are on Rakuten TV?

In terms of films on the platform, they do have a wide variety of different options for you to choose from. This includes action films and thrillers that you can’t find on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Their best variety probably comes in their kids films, with them having the rights to show a lot of different Disney movies. This includes classics like The Lion King, but also newer Disney releases like Onward too.

In terms of TV Series, the company has a deal with HBO that they can provide all of their series. So, you’ll find Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Wire (the greatest television show of all time, I might add) on the service.

Is Rakuten TV Free?

Although most of the films and TV shows that are on Rakuten you’ll need to pay for, they do have a selection of freebies that you can watch too. As you probably guessed, most of these are lesser known titles, which many people won’t be interested in.

Saying this, if you’re willing to search through the platform then you can find some good films in there like Dallas Buyers Club and American Beauty. You can find them titled under the Rakuten TV Free section with the app.

When you go to pay for any of these different films on Rakuten TV, then you have a choice of different methods. You can either use your standard debit or credit card (VISA/Mastercard), or you can actually pay via PayPal too.

This makes things a little easier. It’s also worth mentioning that banks like Lloyds actually offer free rental tickets via Rakuten TV to some of their customers, as opposed to the traditional free cinema tickets you might get.

Where can you watch Rakuten TV?

If you’re not sure what devices you can watch Rakuten TV on, then there are different options for you out there. Most people end up watching Rakuten TV directly through their smart TV, which is probably the easiest way to watch it. It’s integrated with all the big brands like Panasonic, Sony and LG.

Another place that you can actually watch Rakuten is via Samsung’s free service, Samsung TV Plus. Rakuten is integrated into the service, so any newer smart TV from Samsung will have it available on that platform free of charge.

You could also consider watching Rakuten TV by using your computer or your laptop. It is available for both Mac and Windows devices, and it’s one of the easiest ways for you to watch the platform.

In terms of streaming sticks, it’s readily available on Roku. It isn’t actually available in the official app store if you use a Fire stick. Whilst there are ways of side-loading the app, there’s not really a release that’s of a decent enough quality to use.

As well as this, you can also easily link up to Rakuten TV on your mobile phone too, for both Android and iOS devices. Or, you can also get the Rakuten app on Xbox too.

Is the Rakuten TV app any good?

Like Prime Video and other on demand services, the Rakuten TV app is designed to make it easy to access all of your favourite shows.

You can easily download the Rakuten TV app via either the Apple Store or the Google Play store depending on your device. Whilst it’s not perfect, it’s definitely better to interact with than some other television apps that I’ve used over the past few years.

The only thing that is a little frustrating is the ads which pop up pretty frequently. If you want to skip through a movie, you’ll likely have a few minutes of ads to wait through, which as I said, can be very annoying.

Originally, Rakuten TV started out by buying the film and TV service Wuaki TV, which grew a lot in popularity in 2016. So, this is what the Rakuten TV platform is based on.

Blinkbox was one of the older streaming services online, and eventually they ended up becoming the Talk Talk TV Store. They were a major rival to Rakuten TV at one point in time. However, eventually as Rakuten grew bigger, they ended up merging Talk Talk TV into their own service, and acquiring all of their current customers too.

If the name Rakuten seems familiar, it’s because they’re one of the biggest e-commerce brands worldwide, largely through buying other services (like Buy.com). Although they’re a Japanese brand, the TV division is headquartered in Spain.


In conclusion, although Rakuten TV isn’t on the level as some of the bigger streaming services out there as of yet, there’s no reason why it can be in the coming years. As they’re backed by one of the biggest companies in the industry, they’re surely going to grow in the near future.

However for the meantime, most people won’t want to pay the purchase and rental fees on a per title basis. You can find much better value by opting to go with a one time fee monthly service. But for what it’s worth, you could download the app for free and see what they have available.

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About Melissa

Hey! I'm Mel, I write the occasional article for Spacehop, amongst other things. I love meeting new people and chatting, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

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