Amazon announces Prime Instant Video Streaming Service Expansion in Japan, Competing with Netflix
Amazon announced Wednesday that it will offer its Prime Instant Video service in Japan next month, going toe-to-toe with rival Netflix in the video streaming industry.
In a statement Amazon Japan president Jasper Cheung said, they are investing significantly to provide high-quality, local and popular program to the members of Prime. Just as they did in the U.S., customers in Japan should expect the same thing. Amazon will create exclusive content specifically made for Japanese customers, including popular local drama and anime.
Amazon has been in Japan since 2007. It charges 3,900 yen or $32 a year for Prime membership in Japan, while it charges U.S. members $99. Prime is very popular in the U.S., offering various services, including free shipping on purchases made with Amazon, music streaming, and unlimited movies and TV shows. Besides Japan, Prime has also expanded in Canada and certain parts of Europe.
Amazon's expansion can easily be considered as a first move to compete with rival Netflix, who have earlier announced that they are launching their video streaming service in Japan on September 2. Netflix partnered with SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications provider. It will offer its video streaming in Japan at 650 yen or $6 to 1,450 yen or $12 per month. The pricing with Amazon's Prime Instant Video is more attractive than what Netflix offers.
For Amazon and Netflix, there is still no certainty if their streaming service will become a success in Japan, where the traditional way of watching movies and TV shows is still through broadcast and DVD rentals.
One of the first U.S. video streaming services that launched in Japan was Hulu. It didn't gain wide appeal, but it's not considered a complete failure. A local TV broadcaster eventually bought that expansion. It still brings the Hulu name, but it only shows the same programs shown on regular TV.