Motto TV: Japan Gets New Video-On-Demand Service

Hulu Japan, actvila, and other existing video content providers are getting competition soon: a total of seven Japanese companies are currently preparing a video-on-demand service for connected TVs that’s scheduled to launch on April 2 this year.

Dubbed “Motto TV” [JP, PDF], the service is backed by:

  • advertising agency Dentsu
  • Nippon Television Network
  • TV Asahi
  • Tokyo Broadcasting System Television
  • TV Tokyo
  • Fuji Television Network
  • NHK

What’s especially interesting here is that not only five commercial TV networks are taking part, but also NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization.

NHK alone is ready to contribute a total of about 4,000 shows to the 10,500 programs Motto TV will start off with. Users will need to own compatible TV sets that are expected to go on sale from April.

Motto TV programs can be selected via the remote control, for example anime shows, TV series, or comedy programs. Fees vary, depending on the program itself and the station that’s broadcasting it.

Users can browse through the content by selecting different genres, entering key words, or accessing rankings from the menu.

Japan’s Blockbuster Video wants to to become Japan’s Netflix

What Blockbuster Video is to the USA, Tsutaya is to Japan. The company is currently operating over 1,300 video rental stores in this country and boasts 27 million members.

Now, Tsutaya finally came to realize their future is the web: The company now wants to transform into this country’s Netflix – at least kind of.

And here is how they want to do it:

Tsutaya actually already began on Friday with offering high definition versions of hit US series, such as Lost or Desperate Housewives on “Tsutaya TV”. Japanese users can download the titles by accessing acTVila [JP], an HD video-on-demand service launched by the Japanese government, Sony, Matsushita, Sharp, Hitachi and Toshiba.

This means potential customers must own Internet-ready TV sets which is a clear drawback in my opinion. Netflix customers can view their streams on the PC or can choose to watch their downloads via the Roku set-top box, which is on sale in the USA since last month and costs 100 USD.

Tsutaya plans to expand their current repertoire to 2,000 titles until the end of this year by collaborating with Paramount, Warner, Walt Disney and NBC Universal.

Feature films will be downloadable for a whopping 735 Yen (7 USD, 4.50 Euros) and will be erased after 2 days.

Given that Japan has one of the fastest Internet infrastructures in the world, Tsutaya’s move is long overdue. KDDI woke up last year already and since then offers a “DVD Burning Service” (more info in English about that here and here).