Streaming services such as Netflix are still a very American concept, but they are making their way toward other countries like Japan.
Shortly after the news that Netflix itself would be heading to Japan, its entry point into the East Asian market, Amazon announced that its Prime Video streaming service will also be heading to the Asian country. Netflix also launched in Australia and New Zealand in the spring, and plans to offer service in 200 countries by the end of 2016.
"Prime Video will offer thousands of popular Japanese and U.S. movies and TV shows, anime series, music concerts and variety shows, plus Amazon's own award-winning originals and new Japanese originals," said Amazon in a statement.
Amazon Prime Video will launch in Japan sometime during September, although a specific date for the launch has not been given just yet. Netflix will be launching on Sept. 2.
As far as the pricing of the service, it will be available to customers of Amazon's Prime service, which costs ¥3,900, or around $32, per year. That ends up being around $2.70 per month, and gives subscribers other perks such as free shipping, among other things. Netflix, by comparison, will cost users around ¥650, or $5.40 per month, and is of course only for the video-streaming service.
These things combine to give Amazon a clear advantage. It has a large existing user base, with Amazon Prime having been offered in Japan for 10 years now, and costs a lot less compared with Netflix. Netflix, however, isn't taking its disadvantage sitting down – it has partnered with mobile provider SoftBank in a deal that will allow customers to pay for Netflix at the same time as their phone bill. The carrier will also preload the Netflix app on its devices starting in October.
Netflix also could end up having an advantage when it comes to content. Neither Netflix nor Amazon has revealed what content they will offer customers at launch. It's also not yet known whether streaming will take off in Japan – services such as Hulu have failed to gain the user base that they hoped for, and DVD rentals are still very popular in the country.
Photo: Mike Seyfang | Flickr