Japanese customers will soon be able to take advantage of video streaming services offered by Netflix and Amazon as a result of market entry initiatives announced by both companies this week. The week started with Netflix’s announcement on Monday that it will launch service throughout Japan on September 2 through a partnership with Softbank Group, which has agreed to market Netflix through its retail outlets and to allow Softbank customers to pay Netflix subscription fees through their Softbank broadband or cell phone bills. Netflix’s debut in Japan, which boasts more than 36 million broadband homes, completes another step in the company’s planned global deployment, which is slated for completion by the end of next year. Customers will be given a choice of three service tiers with monthly rates that range from U.S. $5.40 for a single standard definition stream to $11.99 for up to four streams of high definition video. Although Netflix and Softbank declined comment on the details of their financial relationship, the companies are expected to cooperate in developing original content. Customers will also be able to subscribe to the service online.
On the heels of Monday’s announcement, Amazon said yesterday that it will also market its Prime Instant Video service next week in Japan where it will offer “thousands of popular Japanese and U.S. movies and TV shows, anime series, music concerts and variety shows, plus Amazon’s own award-winning originals and new Japanese originals.” Amazon and Netflix, meanwhile, would compete against existing streaming services offered in Japan by Hulu (which recently sold its Japanese business to Nippon Television Network Corp) and by NTT Docomo. Although Softbank also provides video streaming services under the “Uula” name, Softbank President Ken Miyauchi said his company would continue to offer Uula but would focus more on marketing the Netflix service.