Former Japan international Keisuke Honda is set to launch a new digital media venture involving several of the country's high-profile athletes.

Voice recordings from the athletes will be distributed by smartphone as part of a monthly subscription service called NowVoice, which launches Wednesday.

The venture is entering the market at a time when digital audio media, such as podcasts, remain a growth area among Japanese consumers. In contrast, video sharing services such as YouTube appear to have reached saturation.

It will initially feature 16 athletes including tennis player Kei Nishikori, Major League Baseball pitcher Yu Darvish and swimmer Rikako Ikee, who is battling to return to the pool after being diagnosed with leukemia.

The service eventually plans to add musicians, entertainers and business figures to its roster of speakers, according to its website.

"I want to share never-before-heard insights from leaders in a variety of fields. There is a unique depth and special quality that can only be communicated with spoken words," Honda said.

The service is a joint venture between Honda's company NowDo Inc. and online sports media firm Sports Bull.

It will be free until the end of May, and will be promoted to children unable to attend school during the current nationwide state of emergency instituted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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