With linear channels and a movie-driven on-demand service, Wowow is already one of the leading consumers of movie content in Japan, and boasts 2.8 million subscribers. These are fed by existing output deals and a steady stream of acquisitions.
“Our expansion into theatrical is about diversifying revenue,” said Kayo Washio, who was in Berlin this week, with a schedule made up of screenings and meetings with indie sales agents. Washio, who is head of Wowow’s Los Angeles office and chief producer, will lead the company’s acquisitions effort from the U.S.
She said that the company has no annual quota of acquired titles to fill, and that the activity will be ramped up. In its initial stages, the company may contract out releasing to a local distributor, and shift to an in-house operation according to the volume.
Washio said that she would be looking for titles across a wide range of genres, but predominantly those that fit with Wowow’s existing female-skewing audience demographics. Animation is unlikely to be part of that mix.
Listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Wowow operates three channels. Its Prime channel runs a mix of overseas series, originals, movies, documentaries and is the partner broadcaster in Japan for the Oscars and the Grammy Awards. Its Live channel focuses on sports, concerts and stage performances. Wowow Cinema carries approximately 1,400 movies per year.