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Konichiwa from Hulu in Japan

June 28th, 2012 by Johannes Larcher

Hulu’s subscription service launched in Japan in September 2011, and the business has been growing steadily ever since.  We wanted to share a quick update on what’s going on with our first international market. 

Content.
The content library in Japan continues to grow at a rapid clip. Today, we are proud to announce that we have entered into a multi-year agreement with HBO to bring Japanese entertainment fans some of the most compelling American TV programming ever produced. Select HBO shows, including “Sex And The City” and “The Sopranos”, will be available to Hulu subscribers in Japan starting today, with additional HBO hit shows such as “Entourage” and “Band of Brothers” coming later this year.  And earlier this month, Don Draper and the Madison Ave. heavyweights from the hit show “Mad Men” (seasons 1-3), launched on the Hulu service in Japan through a content partnership with Japanese distributor Pony Canyon.

The amount of content available to subscribers overall has increased by more than 300% since the service launched in September 2011. There are now more than 800 films and nearly 6,900 TV show episodes from 24 content providers. And we have continued to heavily invest in creating original subtitles for TV shows that have never before been available in Japan, including new series like “Sons of Anarchy”, “The Office” and “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

We are also proud that we offer our Japanese subscribers anime series, TV shows, and films from more than 10 Japanese and Korean content partners. In the spring, we launched a partnership with local broadcaster TV Tokyo that brings Hulu subscribers popular TV shows including “Moteki,” “Suzuki Sensei,” “Yuja Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro” and “Saijo no Meii,” as well as next day, catch-up access to popular animation series such as “Inazuma 11” and “Danball Senki”.

We are excited about the content growth to date, and look forward to bringing more premium TV shows and films from around the world to Hulu’s subscribers in Japan.

Device Footprint.
The company has also expanded the number of Hulu-enabled, Internet-connected devices in market. As of today, there are more than 29 million Hulu-enabled devices in the market. Since September 2011, Hulu has launched on many internet connected devices including Sony TVs, Sony PlayStation® 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360®.  We continue to expand our device footprint, and we recently announced Hulu will be coming to Nintendo Wii in Japan. Expect aggressive expansion on more devices through the rest of the year.

National Brand Campaign.
In Q2, we launched our first national brand advertising campaign in Japan, which included a TV commercial, online and out-of-home marketing. The TV commercial, entitled “The Story Goes On”, shows how Hulu connects rich stories with the people who love them. Television has a colorful history, and Hulu is proud to be a part of its future in Japan.

Hulu also took over multiple train lines throughout various parts of Japan, including the Yamanote line in Tokyo. (It’s the “green line”, naturally.)

Yamanote Line in Tokyo

The Hulu Team in Japan.
We now have 19 full-time Hulu team members in Japan.  In April, Buddy Marini joined Hulu as the managing director of our Japan business. Buddy now leads all aspects of Hulu’s business in Japan and is responsible for strategic business planning, day-to-day operations, content acquisition and distribution, and marketing.

To support the growing team, we recently moved into new office space in Roppongi, Tokyo.  Check it out! (We think it’s pretty cool.)

While it is early days for our first international market, we have been extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received to date. Our service has clearly struck a chord with Japanese consumers, and we are excited about adding more great content and additional distribution partners to further increase its appeal. We are grateful to our content partners and subscribers who have been instrumental to our growth and we will continue to innovate the Hulu service on behalf of all our customers.

Domo Arigato,

Johannes

Last comment: about 9 hours ago 14 Comments
  • Hey Peter,

    I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you tried contacting them via ( http://www.hulu.jp/support/contact/form )? If you do not hear back within 48 hours, please let me know on here or email us at ( http://www.hulu.com/support/support_form ). I’m sure we will get this figured out soon.

    Thanks,
    Joe B.
    Hulu Support

  • Peter Schireson says:

    I have tried to cancel my subscription to hulu japan for more than a year. I used it briefly in Japan and then returned to the U.S. They will not stop billing me. It is maddening. My credit card company has advised them repeatedly and does not pay the bills, but they will not stop. Horrible experience

  • Hi Peter,

    Thanks for the feedback! I will definitely pass all of this along, as it helps our service grow and move forward. If there is any other feedback, just let me know!

    Cheers,
    Joe B.
    Hulu Support

  • Peter Kelly says:

    Hi, loving the Hulu Plus device here in Japan.
    The PS3 and iPhone apps are great.
    But the Xbox 360 app is not as good. It needs an English option for the GUI, and the search function is poor compared to the apps on other platforms. So poor in fact, that I am usually forced to search for content on my iPhone, start playing it on the iphone, and then I swap to Xbox 360 and can see the content I want in the recently viewed section. Well I think it’s that section, but the GUI is in Japanese, so I can’t really tell.
    Also? Need a lot more Kids content and stuff from the BBC.
    You have a lot of older films, actually that’s great, please keep adding classic old films and stuff from 80s and 90s.

  • Lunar Pole says:

    I am a new subscriber, but I am an impatient customer.

    Of the content I see on Hulu that is of interest to me, Mad Men ranks quite high. Season three is up and running. When can we expect to see season four and five?

    The Closer is represented with season one and three. Other programs like ‘The Good Wife’ are sadly missing. What gives? How do you choose which programs you run?

  • Kevin says:

    I echo the call of some of your viewers, English sub-titles for the Japanese movies and TV shows please. Would be a real plus. I often watch Japanese movies when I fly, as I can have subtitles in English. A shame you don`t offer this yet.

    Other than that, I am enjoying the service so far.

  • Chris says:

    Hi there, I love the service thus far, but is there any way to make both English/Japanese audio available so that the user can choose? As an english speaker in Japan, there are some US shows that I’ve love to watch, only to find that they’ve been dubbed over in Japanese. I’d love to have the ability to choose which audio I’d want, if possible :)

  • Joy says:

    With the number of English Speakers in Japan, many who are interested in Japanese movies and Anime, I find it disappointing that Hulu does not offer the option to have English Subtitles on their Japanese movies. Even Japanese might be interested as it may offer an opportunity to practice their English. I would highly recommend taking the steps to provide this as it would likely capture the foreign market in Japan as most Rental stores do not have English Subtitles on their Japanese movies.

  • Pozzy says:

    Welcome to Japan! My wife (Japanese) & I (Canadian) are excited to try the two week trial. Currently we are with SkyPerfect but that’s severely lacking. The only upside is CNN but even then it’s only an ‘international’ version that doesn’t really cover some major issues back home. Going from 6000 yen a month to less than 1000 will be a big reason for us to potentially switch especially when running a small business. Cheers & here’s hoping Hulu is all we’ve heard it’s supposed to be!

  • Michael says:

    My wife is from Japan and it would be great if we could get Japanese subtitling on the shows here in the states that are being aired in Japan.

  • Vincent Tilton says:

    - Good for you! Expanding to Japan. Wonderful – Sorry, wrong, LAME. Expand to Europe, then things will start to get exciting. Really, how hard is it to expand to Europe? Can’t be that difficult. Netflix did it. Amazon (under the name LOVEFiLM) did it. You are leaving money on the table. No wonder there was only one interested buyer when Hulu was for sale. Bad management, illogical international expansion. Come on. Lets get your act together and stop holding the people of Europe hostage.

  • Hi Shane,

    I’m sorry for the frustration. This content partnership is a sign of our progress, and signifies the size of the opportunity in Japan for content owners like HBO. Hulu has a great relationship with the content community overall, and this relationship with HBO is an example of how we are continuing to partner with content owners of all shapes and sizes, for the right product and the right place, which in this case is Japan.

    As huge TV fans, we love all those HBO shows too, so we definitely understand your disappointment. We would still love to bring HBO content to the US Hulu service and will continue to work on it.

    Thanks,
    Shirley
    Hulu Support

  • Shane says:

    Wow! You guys just love rubbing it into the faces of your faithful subscribers here in the states. When do we get HBO content? Way to go Hulu / HBO.

  • chogdson says:

    It was truly good news for all Japanese people. And, hulu is doing their best to offer best shows.

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