Japan's Biggest Anime Channels to Combine Operations

Courtesy of Photofest

Owned by Sony and trading house Mitsui, Kids Station and Animax will come under a joint venture as online platforms challenge the pay TV business model.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ) and trading house Mitsui are forming a joint venture to operate the two anime cable stations they own in Japan, the two companies announced Thursday.

Sony's Kids Station, which broadcasts Pokemon, and Mitsui's Animax, the two most-watched dedicated anime channels in Japan, with nearly 17 million viewers between them, will be managed by AK Holdings Corporation.

The company, in which Sony will hold the majority stake, will also produce and distribute anime, stage related events around the world and operate themed restaurants.

“In addition to a treasured form of Japanese art and culture, anime has grown to become a major cultural export with massive commercial appeal around the world. Combining the strengths of Sony’s Animax with Mitsui’s Kids Station will allow us to increase our production capacity and reach fans of all ages in Japan and around the world,” said Masao Takiyama, managing director of SPEJ Television Network, who will head the joint venture.

The growth in online streaming platforms, combined with an anime boom that has pushed up prices for content, has piled pressure on cable and satellite channels. The merger of the two channels' operations will strengthen their capabilities in original content production and promotion in the increasingly competitive market.

The new joint venture will begin operations on Mar. 31.