Hulu launches in Japan – with CBS


CBS is still a holdout from Hulu in the United States. But it has signed an international licensing agreement for Hulu to distribute some CBS programming on its just-launched video service in Japan.

One key difference is that the Japanese Hulu service is subscription only. Hulu had announced plans to launch in Japan about a month ago – but the big news as the launch actually took place is that CBS content is included.

“We’re thrilled to have CBS’s world class content be part of Hulu’s first international market and their new venture in Japan,” said Armando Nuñez, President, CBS Studios International.  “This new subscription service marks yet another opportunity to deliver CBS programming to more global viewers in a way that complements our traditional licensing business and realizes even more incremental value from our library.”

“With the launch in Japan, Hulu is focused on adding meaningfully to the entertainment choices available to Japanese consumers, while providing a valuable new channel for distribution, increased consumer reach and incremental monetization for our premium content partners,” said Johannes Larcher, SVP of International for Hulu.  “The partnership with CBS is significant for the Japan service, and we are excited to bring these popular shows to Japanese entertainment fans anytime and anywhere.”

The groundbreaking deal with CBS comes as current Hulu owners Disney, NBCUniversal, News Corporation and Providence Partners evaluate whether to sell Hulu. There’s been speculation that the bids, now being evaluated, could approach $2 billion.

RBR-TVBR observation: CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves has never ruled out doing a deal with Hulu in the US – but he’s insisted on getting a price that he believes properly values CBS content. The Hulu deal in Japan apparently meets his price. Subscribers in Japan will pay 1,480 yen per month for Hulu, about $19.22. The US Hulu subscription service casts $7.99 per month, while the more limited advertiser-supported service is free to users.