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Streaming in Japan - statistics & facts

Online streaming services in Japan have increased considerably in popularity in recent years. The market size of paid video streaming services doubled between 2017 and 2020, reaching a value of around 371 billion Japanese yen for the first time in 2020. The sales revenue of paid music streaming services jumped from just 23.8 billion yen in 2017 to more than 50 billion yen in 2020. Despite a high internet penetration rate, Japan was comparably slow to embrace this new form of content distribution, as Japanese producers have relied on traditional distribution channels and physical media longer than their counterparts in other countries. The current shift to online distribution can be seen as a phase of transitioning that can also be observed in other parts of the media industry in Japan.

Video streaming

The high growth rates of subscription-based video and music streaming in recent years stem in part from increased competition in the market. While free streaming services such as YouTube and Nico Nico Douga have been an integral part of the Japanese video streaming landscape since the mid-2000s, subscription-based video streaming did not take off to the same degree as it did in Western countries. Although Hulu has been active on the Japanese video-on-demand market since 2011, it was the arrival of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in 2015 that marked the beginning of increased competition for local players. Today these include, among others, TVer, Abema, GYAO!, U-Next, NTT Docomo’s dTV and dAnimeStore, Fuji TV’s FOD Premium, and Tsutaya TV. Disney entered the market as another strong contender by rolling out its Disney Deluxe service in early 2019, which was rebranded as Disney+ in June 2020. While survey data indicated that Amazon Prime Video was the leading service among paid video streaming users, it was estimated that Netflix held the highest market share among subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services based on user fees. According to a ranking of the most popular paid video streaming genres, Japanese consumers show a preference for international and domestic movies ahead of other types of content, such as anime or drama series.

Music streaming

The developments in the music streaming market followed a similar pattern. Apple Music, Google Play Music and Amazon Prime Music entered the Japanese music streaming market in 2015, followed by Spotify in 2016 and YouTube Music in 2018. Initially, music streaming services suffered from a limited selection of songs, as many Japanese record labels saw streaming as a threat to highly profitable physical sales. Due to the relatively high fragmentation of the Japanese music market, streaming services also had to negotiate with numerous companies over licensing agreements. The reluctant stance of the labels has been changing in recent years, as a huge but shrinking CD market makes alternative revenue streams necessary. Consequently, streaming revenues increased and overtook downloads for the first time in 2018. As of 2020, streaming made up three quarters of digital music sales. Domestic players in the Japanese music streaming market include LINE Music, AWA, Uta Pass, d-Hits, and RecMusic.

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