Nippon Television Network Corp. has agreed to acquire Hulu’s Japan business for an undisclosed amount — and Hulu’s exit from the Land of the Rising Sun shows that it’s refocusing energies in the States.
The deal, subject to regulatory conditions, is expected to close in early spring, the companies announced late Thursday. The Hulu Japan acquisition marks Nippon TV’s entry into the subscription video-on-demand business.
Hulu, a joint venture of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co., launched an SVOD service in Japan in September 2011. Since then, Hulu Japan has added 50 content partners, offering more than 13,000 TV dramas and movies across 90 million devices, according to Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins.
“We are very proud to have created a service that Nippon TV, the broadcast leader in Japan, sees as a strong asset,” Hopkins said in a statement.
Hulu’s parents explored a potential sale of the entire company in 2013 — for the second time — before opting last July to retain the Internet TV site and pledging to invest $750 million to grow the business. Hulu’s parents named Hopkins, formerly Fox Networks’ head of distribution, to run the venture last fall after a major exodus of the senior executive ranks.
As part of the acquisition, the parties will enter into a separate agreement under which Hulu will license its brand and technology to a subsidiary of Nippon TV, as well as provide support services that will enable Nippon TV to continue to make the SVOD service available under the Hulu brand using the same platform.
Under Nippon TV’s ownership, Hulu Japan service will continue to offer premium content, including U.S. and Japanese films and dramas and TV programming. In addition, Nippon TV will launch shows and original exclusive content on the Hulu service in Japan.
Nippon TV was Japan’s first commercial terrestrial broadcaster to go on the air, in August 1953.