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TOKYO — Softbank, the Japanese investment conglomerate that recently held acquisition talks with DreamWorks Animation, has launched a new streaming service for Japanese smartphone users. It allows them to sign up for individual speciality channels instead of the standard channel bundle.

Called BBTV Next, with Softbank subsidiary TV Bank acting as the operator, the service bowed today with 12 channels on offer, including Music Japan TV, Cinefile Next and Disney Channel. Subscribers to rival NTT’s DoCoMo and KDDI’s Au smartphone services can also sign up. 
 
Initially users will be asked to subscribe to three channels for a monthly fee of JPY1,058 ($9.10). By next spring, however, Softbank plans to expand the service to 50 channels, with users able to pick individual channels, at about 400 yen ($3.44) per channel. The service will also be available to tablet and PC users.
 
BBTV Next will allow users to catch up on shows they missed in the past week, as well as see part of a film on one device and the remainder on another.  
 
A majority of Japanese households, or 28.7 million, subscribe to cable and satellite channels, typically including those that they seldom if ever watch. Softbank hopes to give those not-always-satisfied subscribers a chance to order their entertainment a la carte instead from the set menu.