Netflix Pacts With J:Com for Distribution in Japan

J:Com, Japan’s biggest cable TV network operator, will begin broadcasting Netflix programming in the fall of 2019, according to Japanese media reports.

To access Netflix shows J:Com subscribers will need a special receiver scheduled to go on sale in the fall of next year. They are not expected to pay as much as regular Netflix users, but details such as titles and pricing are still being negotiated.

Launched in 1995, J:Com hit the five million subscriber mark at the end of 2013, but has since found growth elusive. The company currently offers 17 channels on five services, but the new partnership with Netflix gives existing subscribers a stronger reason to stay. Whether it will lure new subscribers, who can easily download an app for Netflix’s Japan service to their smart devices, remains to be seen.

The streaming market in Japan was very slow to take off, with many consumers sticking with cable, rather than mobile, for video. Others preferred the collectability and perceived quality of packaged media. In the last couple of years, however, new OTT players have sprung up lifting the number of competitors to over 30. Both Amazon Prime (bundled with Amazon’s prime home shopping delivery service) and locally-owned Hulu Japan have made some inroads.

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