Hulu sells its Japan operations to Nippon Television

Aggressive advertising for Hulu Japan in Shibuya, 2012.
Aggressive advertising for Hulu Japan in Shibuya, 2012.

Online streaming video company Hulu has announced (English/Japanese) that it will sell it’s service to Nippon Television. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins noted in a blog post:

We have now reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we feel the best path forward is to sell the company to a strategic buyer. I’m announcing today that Hulu’s Japan business is to be acquired by Nippon Television Network Corporation (Nippon TV), who will assume the day-to-day operations and management of the business at the closing of the transaction.

There was actually some foreshadowing to this, as more and more Nippon TV content had been making it onto Hulu recently. As a subscriber I’ve noticed this happen, but I’m not certain whether I will still be a subscriber in the future. Hopkins expressed confidence that Hulu Japan is “in very good hands”. However I’m skeptical as to whether or not Nippon TV will strive to obtain a diverse range IP, instead of just showing mostly their own.

We don’t know any subscriber numbers for Hulu Japan, but of course, if the numbers were good, we’d have heard about it. So I’ll assume they’re poor. To give you another perspective, the Hulu Plus app is currently ranked a lowly 806th overall in the Japan iOS App Store, compared to 252nd overall in the US.

In the early days of the Hulu Japan I recall seeing advertising installations for Hulu Japan in Tokyo’s busy Shibuya station. But over the past year or so I can’t recall seeing any such advertising anywhere.

Hulu Japan launched back in late 2011, initally at a monthly subscription price of 1480 yen (about $15). That price was subsequently dropped to 980 yen in April of 2012. As you can see by Hulu Plus’s rise in the rankings (see middle of the chart below) that move did have a positive effect, but apparently it was not enough.

See also: Nippon TV press release