Netflix and SoftBank may partner for launch in Japan

Netflix is set to debut in the country, its first in Asia, on September 1st

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 24, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3fb2

Netflix's launch in Japan is coming pretty soon, in around two and half weeks from now, and it will become the company's first launch in an Asia country.

It's obviously a big moment for Netflix, and one that will have deep and lasting implications for its future. So it needs to have the best possible content to win the country over. And what better way to do that than through a high profile partnership?

Netflix is currently considering partnering with SoftBank Group for a content partnership, according to areport out from Bloomberg on Sunday.

The deal would allo SoftBank to sell Netflix subscriptions through its retail shops in Japan, costing between 650 yen ($5.35) and 1,450 yen ($11.97)a month. As it does in the United States, it would also come with a one month free viewing trial.

SoftBank would actually become Netflix's second partner in Japan after  Fuji Media Holdings, through which Netflix produce an original drama called “Terrace House." That happens to make the first time the company is going to launch in an overseas market with local content.

Of course, that will only help Netflix, which is going to have plenty of competition when it makes its way over to Japan. Hulu is already there and has one million users. SoftBank has its own streaming service, called Uula, which has 1.57 million subscribers. Both are potentuially cheaper than Netflix is going to be as well; Hului charges 933 yen ($7.70), while Uula charges 467 yen ($3.86).

The world’s largest online subscription video service will compete with Hulu’s Japan business, owned by Nippon Television Holdings Inc., and streaming services offered by NTT Docomo Inc. and SoftBank’s own Uula.

Hulu has about 1 million users in Japan as of March, each paying about 933 yen a month. Docomo’s dTV streaming service offers access to movies, Japanese animated films and series and dramas for 500 yen a month. SoftBank’s Uula has 1.57 million subscribers paying 467 yen a month.

Netflix originally announced its intentions to launch in Japan in February. 

Japan is not the only country in Asia that Netflix has its eye on, though; the company has talked openly about how it is looking to launch in China, perhaps through another partnership, this time with Chinese internet TV company Wasu Media.

China's online video market is said to be worth $5.9 billion, and Wasu is one of seven companies to have received  Internet TV licenses from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. So such a partnership would be necessary for Netflix to work within the government's controls over licensing for online content.

Again, Netflix will have some stiff competition, including from e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is getting ready to launch its own video-streaming service in the next couple of months. The service will be called Tmall Box Office, nicknamed "TBO," it will be mostly a paid content streaming service over the Tmall set top box.

he addition of China would also no doubt help Netflix's international streaming numbers, which have been growing rapidly. In the most recent quarter, it reported 23.2  million international streaming customers, up from 13.8 million in the same period in 2014.

VatorNews has reached out to Netflix and SoftBank for confirmation and comment on this report. We will update the story if we learn more. 

(Image source: businessfinancenews.com)

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