Japan's SoftBank Launches New TV Streaming Service

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son

BBTV Next is available live and on-demand and is open to all smartphone users in Japan

Japanese Internet and mobile giant SoftBank launched a new pay TV service BBTV Next on Monday.

The new service allows subscribers to choose three channels — Disney, BBC World News and Music Japan TV — for viewing on smartphones, tablets and computers for $9.15 (¥1,058) a month.

BBTV Next, available live or on-demand, is being offered by SoftBank subsidiary TV Bank. The service is open to all smartphone users in Japan and not just customers of SoftBank's mobile division. BBTV Next also will enable subscribers to begin watching on one device and continue on another.

The service now carries 12 channels, including two dedicated to movies, but the company plans to boost that to 50 by spring 2015, with additional offerings of imported drama and sports content.  

The online streaming and VOD market in Japan is becoming increasingly competitive, as more and more new platforms are launched. Hulu effectively pulled out of the market when it sold its local operations to Nippon TV in February this year. However, cable TV is still dominated by a few players, which offer bundles of dozens of channels, plus optional extras.

Subscribers of BBTV Next will be able to choose bundles of just three channels, which SoftBank will be hoping attracts customers currently paying for channels they don't watch.

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SoftBank, which invested $250 million in Legendary Pictures after talks to buy DreamWorks Animation broke down, looks likely to be in the market for more content and acquired the DramaFever streaming platform last month.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair