Netflix Tunes Into Japan
Internet movie and TV subscription service Netflix has said it will expand into Japan this fall, marking the company’s first foray into Asia and following its previously announced March expansion into Australia and New Zealand. The rollout will give Japan’s 36 million broadband households access via subscription to Netflix and its curated selection of movies and TV shows, while Japanese films and TV shows will become available to existing users
Access “will be available at launch on smart TVs, tablets and smartphones, computers and a range of Internet-capable game consoles and set-top boxes, while members with a broadband connection can watch whenever, wherever they like, and on any Netflix-ready device they choose,” the company said in a statement.
“It is an honor to bring Netflix to Japan, and we’ll work hard to please consumers there,” says Gregory Peters, Netflix’s chief streaming and partnerships officer. Peters, a graduate of Yale who speaks fluent Japanese, has been named to head the company’s new operation from a soon-to-be opened office in Tokyo.
Netflix sees Japan as a springboard to further expansion in Asia and a major step toward completing its global rollout by the end of 2016. Los Gatos, California-headquartered Netflix has said it plans to quadruple its current operations from 50 to 200 additional countries within the next two years. Korea and Southern Europe are said to top the list of potential target markets.
In January, the company said it had boosted membership to more than 57 million users at the end of 2014, a gain of 13 million. Profits jumped to $266 million for the year on $5.5 billion in revenue. Netflix didn’t disclose how much it plans to invest in the new Japanese operation, but whatever the commitment, it is sure to find any effort to penetrate Japan’s Internet movie market a challenging one.
J:COM, Japan’s largest cable company, currently holds a majority share of the business with its own video-on-demand (VOD) platform and limited access to the Netflix collection, while the country’s major TV networks and a number of smaller joint ventures all have their own Internet movie services.
In a widely publicized development, Netflix’ arch-rival Hulu bowed out of the Japanese market in February 2014 after a failed three-year effort to carve out a niche for itself ended with the company eventually selling its Japanese VOD operations to giant Nippon TV.