The stated intention of Netflix to take over the world is going to require assistance along the route. The first move in that direction is the announcement of a partnership between Netflix and Japanese telecom giant, Softbank, for its launch in Japan on September 2.
The partnership will allow Softbank clients to sign up as Netflix subscribers through Softbank’s shops, website and call centers. Major electronic retailers who market Softbank products and services in their stores will also be selling Netflix subscriptions. In addition, Softbank will start pre-installing the Netflix app on its smartphones which will be on sale in Japan after October.
The tiered pricing structure for Netflix in Japan will start at 650byen ($5.41) per month for the basic plan, increasing to 1,450 yen monthly for the premium account option, which will include ultra-high definition streaming.
The expansion into Japan by Netflix is its first foray into Asia and is the latest move in a global rollout the company hopes to have concluded by the end of 2016, by which time, the streaming service should available in 200 countries. Netflix is presently in 50 countries and has attracted 65 million global users which analysts forecast could grow to over 100 million by the end of 2020.
Netflix, which expanded its service to a number of European countries during 2014 and to Australia earlier this year, might face an obstacle in its path for global domination when it moves into China. The struggling Chinese economy and the Alibaba Tmall Box Office streaming service might put a spoke in Netflix’s wheel, although the company has proven innovative in its approach to competitive services.
In an announcement in June, Netflix said that that it would be partnering with Fuji Media Holdings to produce original Japanese content for its streaming service in that country.
Competition for Netflix in Japan is likely to come from Hulu and domestic streaming service providers NTT Docomo’s dTV as well as Softbank's Uula service which will remain in operation.