Amazon’s Prime Video platform leads the large and competitive Japanese market for premium video streaming, according to a new study from research firm Media Partners Asia.

The company’s “Japan Online Video Consumer Insights & Analytics” report shows that premium video platforms captured 13% of total video streaming minutes in Japan between January and August 2021.

Led by Amazon Prime Video, eight platforms had an aggregate 87% share of premium video streaming minutes. Amazon also had the largest share of paying subscribers.

MPA, which conducted research with its own AMPD unit and Japanese researcher Intage, said that at the end of August Japan’s SVOD market weighed in at 44 million subscribers. Amazon enjoyed 33% of that total (approximately 15 million subscribers), ahead of Netflix with 14% (6.1 million) and Nippon TV-owned Hulu Japan with 6% (close to 3 million).

Amazon also ranks highest in terms of minutes watched via premium services. It is followed by TVer, a TV consortium-owned platform that leverages deeply local free-to-air dramas, variety shows, news and sports, and accounted for 16% of premium video streaming during Jan-Aug 21; and AbemaTV, a freemium platform co-owned by CyberAgent and TV Asahi, with consumption driven by sports, including Major League baseball, original dramas, local content and live events, and which had an 11% share of premium video streaming. Netflix enjoys approximately 10% of premium video streaming minutes.

MPA attributes Amazon’s lead to: a large library of long-tail content; a bundled e-commerce service; satisfactory platform functionality; distribution partnerships with NTT Docomo and KDDI; and competitive pricing. Local titles, particularly licensed anime, drive nearly 70% of Prime Video consumption. U.S. movies and series account for 20%.

Anime is also a key consumption driver for Netflix. Some of it is monetized globally, attracting significant viewership across Southeast Asia and beyond. Approximately 25% of Japanese consumption on Netflix is driven by Korean dramas, a key competitive differentiator for Netflix, while U.S. content drives 15%. Netflix’s originals (U.S., Japanese and anime) drive 10% of platform viewership.

“The premium video segment in Japan is increasingly competitive. Local content is critical, as illustrated by TVer’s growth over 2020-21, while Amazon Prime Video and Netflix’s licensed anime libraries have contributed over 40% of consumption on the platforms during 2021,” said MPA’s managing partner Vivek Couto. “More competition and category expansion is imminent as Disney Plus expands with Star and local content in October 2021.”

Disney Plus had a soft launch in Japan in 2020, but is only adding the Star-branded content (Disney Television Studios FX Productions, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures) from Oct. 27, 2021.

 

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