Amazon, Netflix Gain Ground in Japanese Streaming Market

Amazon nearly doubled its share and Netflix grew strongly in Japan’s streaming market last year as the two global services try to raise their profiles in Asia.

dTV from Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo topped the list of SVOD services in Japan in 2017, with a 20.3% share, but that is 3.8 percentage points lower than the previous year, according to marketing analysis firm GEM Partners. Second was Hulu Japan, with 13.5%, and third was U-NEXT. Amazon ranked fourth, nearly doubling its share from 5.9% to 11.5% last year, followed by Netflix, which grew from 4.3% to 7.1%.

Total SVOD sales last is estimated at 183 billion yen ($1.7 billion), a 12.2% increase from the year before. GEM forecasts that Japan’s streaming market will grow to 255 billion yen ($2.4 billion) in 2022.

In Japan, VOD service with smartphone contracts was strong before SVOD services became popular. A strong selling point for Amazon Prime Instant Video in Japan is its low subscription price: 3,900 yen ($36.75) for annual membership with unlimited viewing, about one third of the U.S. membership fee. Amazon video’s price in Japan is cheaper than for dTV, Hulu and U-NEXT.

Netflix Japan has been striving to create more animation content such as “Aggrestuko” (pictured). The new original animated series “DEVILMAN crybaby,” which began in January, has brought in new subscribers.

Compared to Amazon and Netflix, domestic SVOD services in Japan do have such big budgets to produce original content. HJ Holdings, which manages Hulu Japan, has tried to strike partnerships in order to gain access to more content.

A new free streaming service called AbemaTV was launched last year by Cyber Agent and TV Asahi and is gaining in popularity in Japan. It features advertising-supported linear distribution and is investing in production of content even though the service is losing money.