US online streaming site Hulu expands to Japan

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. online streaming site made its international debut Thursday by launching a subscription video service in Japan.

The new service gives users unlimited on-demand access to popular American television shows and movies on computers, televisions, tablets and mobile devices for 1,480 yen ($19) per month.

It is offering a one-month free trial in Japan, where those who register can watch — with or without subtitles — all six seasons of “Lost” or movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Armageddon.”

“Today, we are taking a first, but important step to make good on our aspiration to serve customers all over the world,” Senior Vice President for International Johannes Larcher said in a statement.

For the launch, Hulu signed licensing deals with major studios and TV networks including CBS, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox. It plans to later add content produced in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

It also entered an exclusive mobile marketing partnership with Japan’s biggest wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo.

In a blog post last month, Hulu said it chose Japan because Japanese audiences are “passionate about premium video content” and because Japan is a “major producer of world-class TV and feature films.”

The company added that Japan is a particularly attractive market for delivering video over the Internet because of its extensive broadband penetration and the ubiquitous presence of Internet-connected mobile devices.

Launched in 2008, Hulu is owned by NBCUniversal, News Corp., the Walt Disney Company and Providence Equity Partners.