Hulu Sells Japanese Business to Nippon TV

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Mike Hopkins

The deal, expected to close in early spring, marks Nippon TV's foray into the SVOD business.

Hulu has sold its Japanese business to Nippon TV, the companies announced Thursday. 

Terms of the deal, expected to close in early spring, were not disclosed. 

Hulu launched in Japan in 2011. The service more than doubled its subscriber base during the 2013 fiscal year and is now accessible on more than 90 million devices. It's library has grown to more than 1,000 films, including Armageddon, Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech, and more than 12,000 television episodes from shows including Gossip Girl and The Walking Dead.

"We have now reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we feel the best path forward is to sell the company to a strategic buyer," Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins wrote in a blog post. 

With the acquisition, NTV is entering the SVOD space for the first time. NTV shows and original exclusive content will become available on the Japanese service through the deal. 

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“In addition to terrestrial broadcasting and BS/CS broadcasting, Nippon TV is looking forward to succeeding Hulu’s business as a new path to deliver content through the Internet,” said Nippon TV president Yoshio Okubo. “Hulu’s sophisticated brand, wide content line-up, and its outstanding technology are very attractive. We feel a big potential in the brand and service Hulu has created.”

As part of the deal, Hulu will continue to license its brand and technology to a subsidiary of NTV. It will also continue to provide SVOD platform support to the Japanese TV network.  

Hopkins added, "I’m confident that the Hulu business in Japan is in very good hands, and Nippon TV will take the service to new heights, with the added benefit of allowing us to focus on our growing business here in the U.S." 

Hulu has faced some competition in Japan, most recently from Amazon, which launched its Instant Video platform there in November last year. NTV is one of  the commercial networks that provides content to the service.