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Amazon to rival Netflix in Japan

Amy-Landecker-and-Jeffrey-Tambor-in-TransparentAmazon Prime Instant Video is to launch in Japan, putting it in direct competition with soon-to-launch streaming rival Netflix.

The Amazon Prime delivery service is already in operation in the territory, but to this point it has not distributed its SVOD service there.

The video service will launch next month, with Netflix set to roll out on September 2.

“As we’ve shown with the launch of Prime Video in the US and around the world, we are investing significantly to bring high-quality, local and popular programming to Prime members, and our customers in Japan should expect the same investment,” said Amazon Japan president Jasper Cheung.

“We’ve been offering videos and DVDs in Japan for 15 years — we know the entertainment customers want — and we plan to deliver it with Prime Video, all at no additional cost.”

Industry sources have been pointing a Japanese launch for some time, though the announcement is the first concrete evidence.

Amazon will likely create local content for Japanese customers, with anime and local drama mooted.

The e-commerce giant currently streams programming such as Transparent (pictured) for Prime customers in the US, the UK and Germany.

“We are passionate about making distinct, exclusive entertainment that will become Prime member’s next favorite TV show or movie, and we know Prime members in Japan will love what we introduce just for them,” said Amazon Studios VP Roy Price.

Prime currently costs ¥3,900 (US$32.50) per year, which means it will be markedly lower-priced than Netflix, which will be ¥650 per month. Other players in the SVOD market include broadcaster Nippon TV, which acquired the Hulu Japan assets in 2014.