Amazon Launches VOD Service in Japan

Shopping giant is late entrant into developing online video market

HONG KONG – Home shopping giant, Amazon is to begin offering movies online in Japan from this week.

The company, which has previously sold electronic books and music will offer a selection of local and foreign films which can be either rented or purchased outright. They can be downloaded to either personal computers or to Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets.

The new Kindle HDX also goes on sale this week, bundled with a coupon for the new ‘Instant Movies’ service.

The service starts with some 26,000 available titles. Companies committed to supply titles for the Japan market include local majors Toho and Shochiku and broadcasters NHK, Fuji Television Network, Tokyo Broadcasting Systems and Asahi Television.

FujiTV’s hit film “Thermae Romae” (pictured) and Asahi’s TV drama “Doctor-X” are among the initial offerings from local suppliers, while “Monsters University,” is available from Disney/Pixar.

Rentals will start as low as JPY100 (approx. U$1) for 24 hour usage of older titles, with downloads to own reaching JPY1,000 ($10). Those prices are considerably lower than the cost of new release films on DVD, which are often priced over $30 apiece in Japan. The country still has a viable DVD market, though prices and volumes are declining.

Amazon joins the Japanese online video market later than many of its competitors, though most of them have so far found progress to be slow. ITunes Japan launched in November 2010, Hulu Japan in September 2011. Other players in the sector include Google, local video rental firms GyaO and Tsutaya and JCOM, the country’s largest cable TV provider. Local independent Gaga launched a premium VoD service in August last year.

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