In 2011, Hulu finally went international with its launch in Japan. Its Japanese branch was doing pretty for itself as well with last quarter's financial results revealing that it had doubled its subscribers in the region since the beginning of 2013. Despite its successes, Hulu is getting rid of it.
Hulu announced today that it will be selling its Japanese business to Nippon TV for an undisclosed sum. There's no particular reason given for the sale, but it's strongly hinted that Nippon TV offered Hulu a deal it couldn't refuse.
“Hulu launched in Japan less than three years ago, a first-of-its-kind subscription video on demand service in the market which has grown to 50 content partners, offering users more than 13,000 assets of TV dramas and movies across 90 million devices,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu. “We are very proud to have created a service that Nippon TV, the broadcast leader in Japan, sees as a strong asset.”
It certainly makes a lot of sense for Nippon TV to take over Hulu Japan's operations. It lets Hulu continue to exclusively focus on the U.S. market while Nippon TV gains an established foothold in the still growing digital content market of Japan.
“In addition to terrestrial broadcasting and BS/CS broadcasting, Nippon TV is looking forward to succeeding Hulu’s business as a new path to deliver content through the Internet,” said Yoshio Okubo, President, Nippon TV. “Hulu’s sophisticated brand, wide content line-up, and its outstanding technology are very attractive. We feel a big potential in the brand and service Hulu has created.”
Interestingly enough, Nippon TV won't be changing Hulu Japan in any way as it has also licensed the Hulu name and its technology. In other words, Hulu Japan will still be around under its new owner. In even better news for Japanese subscribers, Hulu Japan will also be getting Nippon TV content in the near future.
With this sale, Hulu is back to operating primarily in the United States. It will be interesting to see if it tries its hand at expansion again, or if it will just stick with its primary market. With competitors like Netflix expanding into Europe, however, Hulu might not be able to sit around if it wants to compete.
Image via Hulu Japan