Warner Bros. Discovery and Japan’s U-Next have announced an extension of their relationship with a renewed deal to supply content to the SVOD platform. The agreement sees U-Next continue as the streaming home of HBO in Japan.
Featuring exclusive content rights for HBO, HBO Original and HBO Max Original series, the strengthened agreement includes: current and future seasons of HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” “The Last of Us” and “Succession” as well as returning HBO Original and HBO Max Original series “True Detective: Night Country,” “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” and “And Just Like That…”
Upcoming shows include “The Idol,” “White House Plumbers” and “Love & Death” and the exclusive Japanese premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s “Full Circle.”
The deal also spans a library of more than 2,300 episodes from HBO including newly-available “The Deuce,” “The Newsroom” and “Six Feet Under.”
WBD last year announced that it would slow its planned international rollout of HBO Max and revealed recently that it is still toying with its own streaming platform options.
The U-Next deal follows a similarly renewed agreement in Australia with Foxtel and U-Next’s announcement of plans to merge with another Japanese streamer Pallavi. The enlarged operation is expected to overtake Hulu Japan as the largest locally-operated streamer in the country.
Analysis firm, Media Partners Asia recently said that net new subscriptions to streaming services in Japan have slowed. But upside potential remains significant.
“SVOD household penetration is still only at 45% and there is significant room for growth in the future, driven by anime (largely non-exclusive), premium live action and Korean content and in certain cases, sports. The opportunity going forward for the SVOD category in particular is to elevate the quality of live-action content alongside continued investment in licensing popular anime,” MPS said in a report.
“The collaboration with Warner Bros. Discovery, which began in April 2021, has produced great results as a strategic partnership. We have been able to deliver high-quality titles from HBO and HBO Max, the pinnacle of U.S. entertainment, to audiences as quickly as possible, and we feel that the number of opportunities for people to engage with our service through these titles has also increased,” said Tsutsumi Tenshin, CEO of U-Next.
“This renewed deal reflects our ambition to build further scale across the entire ecosystem of our business, with future optionality that enables us to reach as broad an audience as possible across multiple platforms,” said James Gibbons, president & MD, Western Pacific at WBD.