Amazon Prime Video has staked out a commanding lead in the valuable and fast-growing Japanese streaming video market, a new study from regional consultancy Media Partners Asia shows.
The report found that Japan’s premium SVOD market had a total of 44 million subscribers as of the end of August. Amazon Prime Video accounted for 14.6 million subscribers, or 33 percent, while Netflix trailed with 6 million subs and Disney+, which launched only last year, had just 1.8 million.
Media Partners Asia attributed Amazon Prime’s strong lead in the market to the company’s locally popular bundled e-commerce service, the service’s ease of use and competitive pricing, a large library of long-tail content, and local distribution partnerships with telecoms NTT Docomo and KDDI. The authors found that local Japanese titles, particularly licensed anime, drove nearly 70 percent of Prime Video consumption in the country, while U.S. movies and series accounted for 20 percent of view time.
The importance of the Japanese market to the so-called “streaming wars” was made evident earlier this year in an MPA report that projected Australia and New Zealand would be surpassed by Japan as Netflix’s largest revenue-generating market in Asia Pacific in 2021.
The MPA’s new report found that for Netflix’s estimated 6 million Japanese subscribers, approximately 25 percent of consumption was driven by Korean dramas — “a key competitive differentiator for Netflix” — while U.S. content accounted for 15 percent of viewing. As with Amazon, licensed anime was the the “key consumption driver,” however.
Disney+ launched in Japan in June 2020 and is still finding its footing in the market, to an extent. The service will get a big boost on Oct. 27 when Disney adds the Star brand to the platform’s content offerings, which will bring an additional 16,000 titles to subscribers, including more local Japanese shows.
Several local streaming services continue to hold substantial positions in the market as well. The MPA’s research found Hulu Japan (owned by local broadcaster Nippon TV) had 2.8 million subs, DoCoMo Anime Store (a video app native to DoCoMo phones) had 2.5 million and U-Next (which inked a licensing deal with HBO earlier this year) had 2.4 million.
Titled “Japan Online Video Consumer Insights & Analytics,” the MPA’s report found that TVer, an ad-supported streaming platform created by a consortium of local broadcasters, has carved out an impressive audience over the past year. With a broad content offering comprised of free-to-air Japanese dramas, variety shows, news and sports, TVer captured 16 percent of total premium video streamed in Japan from January to Aug. 21 (Amazon Prime Video scored 26 percent of total consumption and Netflix had 10 percent).
“The premium video segment in Japan is increasingly competitive,” said MPA executive director Vivek Couto. “Local content is critical, as illustrated by broadcast TV-consortium owned TVer’s growth over 2020-21, while Prime Video and Netflix’s licensed anime libraries have contributed over 40 percent of consumption on their platforms during 2021.”
“More competition and category expansion is imminent as Disney+ expands with Star and local content in October 2021,” Couto added.
The MPA’s research was produced via its proprietary AMPD Research Platform in partnership with Tokyo-based firm Intage. Together the researchers measured and analyzed streaming media consumption across the key VOD services in use in Japan.
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