Hulu launches subscription service in Japan

Hulu Japan

Streaming video operator Hulu might be in the midst of offering itself up to the highest bidder—or, at least, trying to find a high-dollar bidder—but that doesn’t seem to be slowing down the operation’s international expansion plans. Earlier this month Hulu announced it would be bringing its service to Japan, and today it has done so, announcing Japanese customers can now subscribe to Hulu at www.hulu.jp for ¥1,480 per month (about $20). In return, customers get ad-free access to selected feature films (like Pirates of the Caribbean, Armageddon, and Troy) along with past seasons of U.S. television shows like Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, and many more.

The service carries no minimum subscription commitments, and customers can signs up for a free month of service to try it out.

“Since launching Hulu in 2008 in the U.S., we have been working hard to bring our service to consumers outside our home market and become a global brand,” said Hulu’s senior VP of international Johannes Larcher, in a statement. “Today, we are taking a first, but important step to make good on our aspiration to serve customers all over the world.”

For now, most of the content on Hulu’s Japanese subscription service is…not Japanese, although the company says it will be “rapidly and continually” adding new content to the service, including material from The Walt Disney Company (Japan) as well as Japanese-produced content and other video content from throughout Asia.

Like the U.S. version of Hulu’s subscription service, accounts can be accessed from multiple devices: customer’s can tap in from a Hulu-enabled TV at home, switch to a tablet or other mobile device on the go, and then pick up Hulu again from a gaming console at a friend’s house. Hulu is bolstering its service with a still-to-be-announced deal with Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo, but Hulu promises subscribers will be able to use the service on any mobile operator or ISP on any supported device.

A strong international presence might bolster Hulu’s positions in negotiations over a sale, but the Japanese launch might be too little too late: initial bids for Hulu were due from interested parties last week.

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