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Amazon to Launch Prime Instant Video in Japan, Taking on Netflix

Amazon.com will launch Prime Instant Video in Japan next month — adding the streaming service for no extra cost to members of the free-shipping program — in a challenge to Netflix, set to launch Sept. 2 in the country.

In Japan, Amazon Prime Instant Video will include popular Japanese and U.S. dramas, variety shows, anime, movies and more, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. The content also will include Amazon Studios’ original series such as Golden Globe-winning dramedy “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and kids’ show “Tumble Leaf.”

Amazon currently offers unlimited streaming-video to Prime members in three countries: the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

In Japan, the e-commerce giant has about 3 million Prime members, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. Amazon has never disclosed how many Prime subs it has, either by country or worldwide.

“As we’ve shown with the launch of Prime Video in the U.S. and around the world, we are investing significantly to bring high-quality, local and popular programming to Prime members, and our customers in Japan should expect the same investment,” Jasper Cheung, president of Amazon Japan, said in a statement. “We’ve been offering videos and DVDs in Japan for 15 years — we know the entertainment customers want — and we plan to deliver it with Prime Video, all at no additional cost.”

Added Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios: “We are passionate about making distinct, exclusive entertainment that will become Prime member’s next favorite TV show or movie, and we know Prime members in Japan will love what we introduce just for them.”

Amazon launched Prime in Japan 10 years ago. Membership currently costs JPY3900 per year ($32.48 per year) — just JPY325 monthly, or $2.71. That’s lower than Netflix’s pricing in Japan, which starts at JPY650 ($5.41) per month. Netflix has teamed with mobile provider SoftBank for its launch in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Prime Instant Video will be available on the Amazon Video app for Android and iOS phones and tablets, Fire tablets, game consoles and smart TVs. The service will include select titles in 4K Ultra HD, which has four times the resolution of standard full HD.

In addition to video streaming, Prime members in Japan receive free expedited shipping and scheduled delivery on many products; a Kindle book to read for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Library; and early access to Amazon Lightning Deals.

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