HBO seals streaming deal with Hulu Japan

HBO has signed an exclusive SVOD deal with Hulu Japan for hundreds of hours of library programming, along with premieres of shows that are new to Japan.

The deal covers library shows such as Game Of Thrones, Sex And The City, The Sopranos, True Detective, Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under, while shows never before seen legally in Japan include Silicon Valley.

Charles Schreger, HBO’s president, programming sales, said: “We are delighted to work together with Hulu in Japan to bring HBO’s distinctive programming to Hulu’s viewers, who have a great eye for foreign drama.”

The deal gives Hulu Japan some much needed ammunition – at least in terms of foreign TV shows – against Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which both launched in Japan last year.

Although Japanese viewers have historically preferred local-language content, Netflix Japan vice president David Lee claimed “strong engagement” for originals such as Daredevil and Orange Is The New Black when he spoke at the Japan Content Showcase last year.

Hulu Japan is owned by broadcaster Nippon Television (NTV), which bought out the service from its US owners (Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal) in early 2014.

Japan is the only international market that Hulu has ever launched in – starting operations there in 2011 – but the market has proved tough for foreign entrants without a large library of Japanese product.