Whoa, it’s finally happening: Netflix is bringing its digital streaming services to Japan later this year.
The announcement came last Wednesday courtesy of both Netflix’s US twitter account and an official press release, and should come as good news, particularly to expats living in Japan who have had to jump through some *cough* extralegal hoops to get streaming access.
This news comes on the heels of some other significant announcements for the streaming service, including launches in several European countries, and Cuba, the latter of which falling under the category of “announcements I never thought I’d see but hey, that’s cool.”
To me, the real question here is: man, is this going to work out? I saw ads for Hulu’s Japanese service on Niconico and other websites for years, but that ended up getting sold off last year to Nippon TV, pretty much marking the end of Hulu’s Japanese ambitions. And Japanese media consumption is still radically different when compared to the kind of services we expect in the US and elsewhere. Rental DVD shops are still a viable business model over there, and media prices in general are still double or triple what you expect to pay in the west.
What’s the content selection going to be like, what’s Netflix going to charge for it, and how much kickback are they going to face from existing entities in Japan’s notoriously in-bred media landscape? The answers to all these questions are all unknowns right now.