Telecom giant SoftBank has been reeled in for Netflix’s assault on Japan, which kicks off on September 2. As an operator of a mobile network, broadband, ecommerce, media, and other businesses, SoftBank is a major scoop for Netflix as the company looks to make its mark in what could prove a lucrative market.
However, with many “outside” companies struggling to gain a foothold in Japan, Netflix is going on the offensive from the get-go, and will be offered through SoftBank stores, as well as other electronics retailers, and through SoftBank’s website. Crucially, Netflix will also be offered through carrier billing, meaning would-be subscribers could be encouraged to sign up without having to complete any additional payment details.
Though Netflix has partnered with telcos before, for example when it launched in France last year, this latest tie-up will see the Netflix mobile app pre-installed on SoftBank smartphones from October this year. This is a notable move by Netflix, as the app hasn’t come standard on phones all that often (with a few exceptions), thought it frequently comes “out of the box” on consoles and smart TVs.
In related news, Netflix has also revealed the pricing for its Japan launch, and it’s along the same lines as in the U.S. (These are all pre-tax):
- Basic Plan: 650 yen ($5.40)
- Standard Plan: 950 yen ($7.90)
- Premium Plan: 1,450 yen ($12)
Netflix claims 65 million users across more than 50 markets, including the Americas and large swaths of Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The company has previously said that it plans to be available globally, in more than 200 countries, by the end of 2016, and that Asia will feature prominently on its extended rollout.
Netflix has been placing greater focus on original content of late, as it looks to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive market. Although the company hasn’t revealed its full content plans for Japan, it will certainly tailor its offering to suit local preferences, and will no doubt move towards creating its own TV shows and movies for the country, too.