Softbank launches a la carte streaming service

Japan’s SoftBank is launching a TV streaming service that will allow subscribers to view the pay-TV channels of their choice across multiple devices.

The new service, BBTV Next, is being offered by SoftBank subsidiary TV Bank for 1,058 yen ($9.10) a month, for which subscribers can choose three channels. The 12 channels currently available include Disney Channel, Music Japan TV and Cinefile Next.

Subscribers can sign up for additional channels at a cost of 400 yen ($3.41) per channel. TV Bank plans to increase the number of channels on offer to around 50, including those carrying sports and overseas dramas, by next spring.

The service is accessed via an app that is available to Softbank subscribers, as well as customers that subscribe to rival telco services NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. Users can watch both live and catch-up TV – and can also start watching programmes on one device and finish them on another.

Japan’s big three telcos all currently offer SVOD streaming services, but not live streams of pay-TV channels on an a la carte basis.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, around 51% of Japanese households subscribe to cable services. But as in the US market, Japanese cable operators bundle channels that many viewers may not be interested in watching.