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Netflix Announces Partnership With SoftBank for Japan Launch

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Netflix will take a mobile-forward position when it debuts service in Japan on September 2. The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) leader announced yesterday that mobile provider SoftBank will allow a simplified Netflix sign-up and billing system, where SoftBank customers can sign up for Netflix service at a SoftBank shop or through SoftBank's web site and call centers. The Netflix subscription price will then be added automatically to customers' monthly SoftBank bill. Additionally, SoftBank will pre-install the Netflix app on its smartphones starting this fall.

Netflix announced the price for SVOD service in Japan: Basic plans that offer one standard definition stream at a time will go for 650 JPY; standard plans that offer two high definition streams at a time will go for 950 JPY; and premium service offering four 4K streams at a time will go for 1,450 JPY.

While Netflix's stock rose after it announced the upcoming Japan launch, not everyone agrees this is a smart move. Forbes said, "Netflix has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t understand Asia, and Japan in particular is a notoriously difficult territory for American media companies to crack." Netflix's lineup of original programming won't be of much value, it said, as Japanese audiences aren't interested in foreign TV. To succeed, Forbes believes that Netflix will have to overspend for rights to Japanese language content that won't do well in the rest of the world.

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