Amazon Prime Video to Launch in Japan

THR Jeff Bezos - P 2015
Austin Hargrave

THR Jeff Bezos - P 2015

The online retailer's online streaming service will join Netflix, Hulu and local platforms in the increasingly crowded Japanese VOD market.

Amazon Prime Video will launch in Japan in September, with local content to be offered alongside U.S. movies and TV shows, following Netflix into the market in the same month.

Amazon Prime has already been in operation making deliveries in Japan for about 10 years and the new service will add streaming for no additional cost to the current ¥3900 ($32.50) annual fee.

"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," said Jasper Cheung, president of Amazon Japan. "We've been offering videos and DVDs in Japan for 15 years — we know [what] the entertainment customers want, and we plan to deliver it with Prime Video at no additional cost."

Amazon hasn't announced any plans for original Japanese programming, but said it will provide details of local content in the coming weeks.

The news follows Monday's announcement that Netflix will partner with telecom and Internet company SoftBank for its Sept. 2 Japan launch, with subscriptions to be sold through its network of mobile phone shops and directly via handsets. The two companies hinted at local original content plans, but provided no details.

Hulu sold its Japan operations to Nippon TV in early 2014 after being unable to carve out a profitable niche in the crowded local market, which includes a number of online and mobile-dedicated platforms offered by domestic TV networks and consortiums of content holders.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair