Amazon has grabbed the bull by the horns today in its video streaming battle with Netflix. The company announced it will start offering its Prime Instant Video service in Japan starting next month.
Netflix previously made clear it plans to enter the Japanese market on September 2, and tapped SoftBank to offer carrier billing for its launch there. The Netflix app will also come pre-installed on some Japanese phones as part of the deal.
Jasper Cheung, president of Amazon Japan, shared the following in a statement:
As we’ve shown with the launch of Prime Video in the U.S. and around the world, we are investing significantly to bring high-quality, local and popular programming to Prime members, and our customers in Japan should expect the same investment. We’ve been offering videos and DVDs in Japan for 15 years — we know the entertainment customers want — and we plan to deliver it with Prime Video, all at no additional cost.
Amazon is expected to create exclusive content tailored to Japanese consumers, likely to include anime and popular local dramas. VP of Amazon Studios (which spent $1.3 billion on original content production in 2014) Roy Price confirmed this when he said, “Prime members in Japan will love what we introduce just for them”.
The company currently offers Prime in Japan for $32.50 per year, which is almost half the price of Netflix’s planned offering, when calculated on a monthly basis ($2.70 versus $5.40).
Amazon has offered Prime-labeled product deliveries in Japan for a decade, but it’s taken until now for its Prime streaming service to catch up.
Overall, the battle between the two giants is fierce, and it’s led some to ponder how Amazon can best compete. One theory suggests spinning out Prime Video into a standalone service.
Reports also surfaced today that Amazon is giving up on making smartphones after the company’s Fire Phone flopped.