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Google Play Music, Netflix face tepid streaming market in Japan

Tim Hornyak | Sept. 10, 2015
An influx of companies has shaken up a market where physical media have dominated until recently.

But the recent history of the video industry doesn't stand in Netflix's favor, according to some observers.

"Hulu effectively gave up after less than three years and sold out to Nippon TV in February 2014, so that could be a harbinger for Netflix," Gavin Blair, a journalist who covers film for The Hollywood Reporter, said via email. 

“One worries that global streaming content may be a bit like the overseas cable TV content one can get in Japan," Christian Howes, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities, said via email.  

"The general audience for it is dramatically reduced as there is no Japanese language version or subtitles. Especially for pay for view type products, most Japanese viewers expect Japanese language content.”

One advantage that Netflix may have is an alliance with mobile carrier SoftBank that allows SoftBank customers to sign up and pay for Netflix through their smartphone accounts. The carrier will also offer the Netflix app on its phones after October. 

However, SoftBank already offers its own streaming service, Uula, which provides access to music, movies and TV shows for ¥467 a month.


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