Netflix Japan's Softbank partnership features integrated billing; price tiers announced

Softbank mobile customers will be able to sign up for Netflix service once the SVOD provider launches in Japan. The companies announced an agreement that makes it easier to subscribe to and pay for the online video service.

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is offering three price tiers in Japan: ¥650 ($5.48), ¥950 ($8) and ¥1,450 ($12.21) per month, when the service launches Sept. 2. The tiers will have the same stream and quality limits as Netflix has implemented in the U.S., with the lowest price tier featuring standard definition and streaming to only one device, and the highest featuring up to 4K definition and streaming to four devices.

Customers of Softbank can sign up for Netflix on the carrier's website, at its retail stores, at major electronics retailers throughout Japan and via its call centers, the Wall Street Journal said. The advantage for Softbank customers is they can pay for the streaming service through their mobile account, without having to fill out additional payment information. The Netflix monthly fee is added to their mobile bill.

Other viewers in Japan will be able to sign up for Netflix via its website. The partnership makes Softbank the first in the country to offer a fully integrated subscription, including billing, with the provider, Netflix confirmed to FierceOnlineVideo.

Softbank will also bundle the Netflix app onto its smartphones beginning in September, Netflix said in an announcement about the deal.

Similar to Netflix's deal with Fuji Media, Softbank will develop original content to be shown on Netflix Japan.

Netflix's growing partnerships with Japan-based media and technology companies ahead of the launch are part of a strategy based upon close study of other U.S. companies launching in the country, particularly Hulu. While CEO Reed Hastings said on a recent earnings call that the provider gained valuable information from Hulu's missteps, he still expects Japan to be the company's slowest market in terms of penetration. However, "it may be one of our best markets in the long-term because when the Japanese society embraces a brand, it's a very deep connection, very long-term," Hastings said.

For more:
- see the release
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

Editor's Corner: Netflix will succeed in Japan, but China is a whole other ballgame

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