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How Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ Stack Up in Japan

The Japanese streaming video space remains competitive, with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and local competitors reaching more than 100 billion viewing minutes in 2023 in the “premium VOD” space that generated $4.5 billion in subscription revenue.

Those are some of the findings of a new study by MediaPartners Asia’s data analytics arm ampd, which also highlighted the success of Japanese streamer U-Next and local broadcasters’ advertising-supported service Tver, operated by Nippon TV, TV Asahi, TBS Television, TV Tokyo and Fuji Television and others.

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“Local broadcaster-led AVOD platform Tver commanded over 20.2 million monthly active users (MAUs) and captured 38 percent of premium VOD viewership in 2023,” the “Japan Online Video Consumer Insights & Analytics” report, which uses a permission-based passive panel measuring the digital activity of more than 19,000 members in a partnership with Intage Group, found. “Amazon Prime Video led the SVOD category with 19.7 million MAUs, followed by U-Next (8.2 million) and Netflix (7.5 million).”

In terms of subscribers, the picture looks slightly different. Amazon Prime has 18.6 million subscribers, Netflix 8.1 million, U-Next 4.2 million, and Disney+ 3.8 million, ampd estimated. However, “Tver and Netflix led engagement with an average of 8.8 and 7.3 hours per user each quarter,” its report summary highlighted.

What about the subscription streaming space? “Five platforms — Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, U-Next, Disney+ and Hulu Japan — shaped Japan’s SVOD economy in 2023, generating a cumulative $3.3 billion in subscription revenue with an aggregate 38.0 million subscriptions at year-end,” according to the research firm. “Prime Video and Netflix led monetization in 2023 with 23 percent and 21 percent of total subscription revenue, respectively,” followed by U-Next with 17 percent.

But U-Next was the fastest-growing SVOD player in Japan in 2023, attracting a 30 percent share of net new subscriber additions, with ampd calling it the “clear local leader in SVOD.” Added the firm: “U-Next has emerged as the leading local SVOD player with high average revenue per user (ARPU), benefiting from its acquisition of Paravi and a robust anime, local TV and sports offering.” Paravi was previously owned by TBS Holdings and TV Tokyo.

“Japanese anime, live-action dramas and variety content represented 65 percent of viewership in the
premium VOD category and contributed over 50 percent of customer acquisition in the SVOD category in 2023,” explained ampd lead analyst Dhivya T. “Licensed local dramas are important engagement drivers for Tver, U-Next and Hulu Japan where TV hits have a second life, while original dramas and variety have had clear acquisition impact on Netflix (Love Village, First Love) and Amazon Prime Video (The Bachelor).”

She concluded: “In addition, anime remains a core pillar of SVOD viewership, with all major SVOD services offering large, non-exclusive and current anime libraries. Exclusive anime, such as One Piece Film: Red (Amazon) demonstrated notable customer acquisition impact.”

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