Netflix Partnering With Japan's SoftBank, Plans Original Local Content

Netflix Inc.

The Japanese telecom and Internet giant will sell Netflix subscriptions to its 37 million customers.

Japan's SoftBank will sell Netflix subscriptions in its mobile phone stores when the online streaming service launches in Japan on Sept. 2. The two companies also announced at a joint press conference in Tokyo on Monday that they are looking into collaborating on original content.

SoftBank will offer three Netflix plans: a basic $5.40 (¥650) package that allows one stream in standard definition, a $7.85 (¥950) HD plan for streaming to two devices in HD, and a 4K package to up to four devices for $12 (¥1,450). A free first month will come with all packages for SoftBank's 37 million subscribers in Japan.

Netflix Japan president Greg Peters made the announcement with Ken Miyauchi, head of SoftBank's mobile operations. There were no further details given about the nature of the content partnership.

Netflix announced a partnership with Fuji Media Holdings Inc., owner of Fuji TV, in June, which will include broadcasting its local Terrace House drama series.

SoftBank already has its own Uula streaming service for its customers, which hosts shows including NCIS and Star Trek. The online VOD market in Japan is becoming increasingly crowded, with a number of platforms offering content. Hulu sold its Japan operations to NTV (Nippon Television Holdings Inc.) in early 2014 and has also announced local, original content plans.

SoftBank, which invested in Legendary Pictures after a deal to buy DreamWorks Animation failed to come to fruition, has been expected to expand its presence in content since the arrival of Nikesh Arora from Google, who was appointed president of the group in May.

Founder Masayoshi Son remains CEO, but has tipped Arora as a future leader of SoftBank Group, which has investments in more 1,300 companies globally.

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