Kazufumi Nagasawa Talks Hulu Japan Slate


Having a good balance of local and international content has been key to Hulu Japan’s success, Kazufumi Nagasawa, chief content officer, said at APOS, noting that the platform has licensed a diverse array of imported dramas, many of which would have been unlikely to find a Japanese home on any other service.

The platform has been investing in originals, Nagasawa said, including Miss Sherlock, a co-production with HBO Asia that premieres tomorrow. It also features a wealth of programming from parent company Nippon TV on a catch-up basis.

Nagasawa noted that the service doesn’t “have deep pockets,” so it also needs acquired product. It has been buying a lot from the U.S. but has recently diversified into shows from other markets, including Turkey, Russia and Australia. A show like Turkey’s Magnificent Century would have never made it to Japan were it not for Hulu. “We were happy to differentiate our lineup,” he said.

Nagasawa also talked about the acquisition of Wentworth, the Foxtel prison-set drama from FremantleMedia International. “In this week’s ranking of international content, number one is The Walking Dead, number two is Wentworth.”

Nagasawa went on to note that about 50 percent of viewing on Hulu Japan is international content.

On the overall SVOD market in Japan, Nagasawa estimates that 10 to 20 million homes take a subscription product out of a total of 120 million homes. “It’s a marathon,” he said of the platform’s future prospects. “We’re trying to break even as soon as possible,” he noted. The service has about 1.7 million subs currently; it needs closer to 2 million to reach the break-even point.

“We have to manage costs” in order to be profitable, he said. Investments have to be justified based on content’s ability to acquire or retain subscribers. On managing costs, Nagasawa said that revenue share, rather than a straight licensing fee, is a good way to work with content partners.