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Netflix links with SoftBank, plans originals

NetflixBuilding4Subscriptions to streaming service Netflix will be sold through telecommunications firm SoftBank when it launches in Japan on September 2.

A deal with the mobile phone provider will allow customers to purchase Netflix subscriptions through SoftBank shops, major electronics outlets, the SoftBank website and call centres. Additionally, SoftBank will begin pre-installing Netflix on its smartphone handsets.

Furthermore, the companies announced at a joint press conference yesterday they would seek to create original programming, though no specific details were revealed.

SoftBank has heavily pushed into programming and content. Last year it invested US$250 million in US studio Legendary Entertainment after failing to agree a deal to buy DreamWorks Animation.

Netflix already has a content creation deal with Fuji Television Network, which is to supply the SVOD service with a pair of originals – a new season of Fuji network reality series Terrace House and an original drama, Atelier – when it launches.

Netflix launches in Japan as part of its global expansion strategy. Original local content has become increasingly important, with royal period drama The Crown being produced in the UK via Left Bank Pictures and political thriller Marseille in France through Federation Entertainment.

Netflix Japan has also unveiled its pricing. A basic standard definition plan will cost a monthly JPY650 (US$5.37), with a HD version costing JYP950 and an ultra-high definition 4K stream costing JPY1,450.

The company will be up against the likes of Nippon TV’s SVOD platform, which it launched after acquiring Hulu Japan and SoftBank’s own Uula, which has a content deal with CBS Studios International.