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Hulu Bows Subscription Service in Japan

1 Sep, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

First foreign expansion for the streaming content aggregator said to be for sale coincides with expanded TV programming for Netflix Canada

Hulu Sept. 1 formally launched its subscription-based video-on-demand service in Japan (www.hulu.jp) — the first international footprint for the online repurposed TV show and movie platform co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and NBC Universal.

Programming, which includes feature films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Armageddon, Men in Black, Troy and As Good As It Gets; and episodes from previous seasons of “24,” “Bones,” “Criminal Minds,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Fringe,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Gossip Girl,” “Heroes,” “Lost,” “NCIS,” “Private Practice” “Prison Break” and “Ugly Betty,” among others, will cost 1,480 yen monthly ($19.20).

Japanese-produced content as well as content from across the Asian region will be added, in addition to license agreements with CBS, NBC Universal International Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney (Japan) featuring content from Disney/ABC Television Group and The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros.

“Today, we are taking a first but important step to make good on our aspiration to serve customers all over the world,” said Johannes Larcher, SVP of international with Hulu.

In addition to access on myriad connected TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets, Hulu entered into a mobile marketing agreement with NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile network.

Meanwhile, Hulu continues to field auction bids, reportedly including offers from DirecTV and Dish Network — the latter interested in bowing a satellite TV subscription service to rival Netflix and augment its Blockbuster store brand acquisition.

Other interested parties include Yahoo, which just said it would up development of original programming, Google and Amazon — the latter embroiled in a contentious anti-sales tax initiative in California. Amazon Sept. 1 said it would hire 7,000 people in the state, in addition to investing $500 million in new facilities, if lawmakers back down from implementing sales tax on purchases made by California consumers.

Advocates of the tax initiative said California loses about $300 million a year in unpaid tax revenue from the ecommerce behemoth’s Internet-based sales.

Separately, Netflix Canada upped its TV programming, adding season four of critically acclaimed legal thriller "Damages," starring Glenn Close, the first season of "Californication," with David Duchovney, and beginning Oct. 1, the first three seasons of "The United States of Tara."

In a blog post, Jason Ropell, VP of content with Netflix, said the Canadian service would get season two of "Californication" beginning in 2012.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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