Business / Corporate

SoftBank partners up with Netflix to sell video streaming service at stores

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

With Netflix Inc. eyeing its Japan launch next week, SoftBank Corp. said Monday it will be partnering with the world’s largest video streaming provider to sell its service at SoftBank’s shops, and possibly create original content together in the future.

While Netflix will accept subscriptions online, the carrier said SoftBank users can subscribe to Netflix at SoftBank stores and pay from their monthly phone bills.

SoftBank President Ken Miyauchi said Netflix, which has about 65 million subscribers globally, has been changing the video industry.

He also praised a technological aspect of the firm, saying Netflix’s recommendation function based on data analysis is effective, as 75 percent of views come from the recommendations.

“(Netflix) is distinctively different from regular video streaming firms, as its approach is very scientific,” said Miyauchi.

Netflix is known for making original content and SoftBank might jointly create content with Netflix, said Miyauchi, adding details are still unclear.

Asked how SoftBank will benefit from the tie-up, Miyauchi declined to comment on whether Netflix’s revenue will be shared and only said the two firms came up with a “win-win” scheme.

Being a newcomer to Japan, Netflix apparently wants to promote its name to local consumers more quickly through the SoftBank partnership.

Netflix Chief Streaming and Partnerships Officer Greg Peters said the company is focused on spreading stories and unique consumer experiences globally.

“Now, we have a shared dream to work together, SoftBank and Netflix, to find those amazing stories around the world, create incredible new experiences and to deliver them to consumers around the globe and here in Japan.”

Netflix said there will be three plans for users in Japan — basic, standard and premium — priced at ¥650, ¥950 and ¥1,450 per month, respectively. The higher plans provide better image quality and allow simultaneous viewing.

Subscribers of other Japanese carriers can also use the service on their handsets, though SoftBank stressed that as an exclusive partner it would promote and sell Netflix at its stores.

Netflix’s entry to Japan will create competition among online video streaming providers. SoftBank rival NTT Docomo Inc. offers a video streaming service called dTV, while Hulu is creating original content.

SoftBank already runs its own video streaming service called Uula. Miyauchi said Uula will continue, but he wants to focus more on Netflix.

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