Hulu Japan Launches, But Falls Flat

Starting today Hulu has launched in Japan as a monthly subscription service. For ¥1480 a month you can enjoy unlimited use of Hulu services including access to all the programming available to Hulu users in the United States.

To see how Hulu Japan would be different from Hulu America, I signed up for a one-month free trial expecting to have my mind blown. When I first heard Hulu was going to launch in Japan as a subscription service, I was so excited. Hulu didn’t let on as to how Hulu Japan would be different from Hulu in the U.S. so I let my imagination get the better of me. I imagined instant access to hundreds of J-Dramas and other Japanese shows as well as access to American and other foreign shows that were available on American Hulu. What I found was Hulu, regular old Hulu in Japanese.

Honestly, I don’t know how Hulu is going to work in this country. I don’t even know who Hulu is trying to target in this country. Are they looking to attract normal Japanese people? Foreigners living in Japan? Anglophiles? It feels like Hulu just said “Hey let’s make people in Japan pay for Hulu America, they’ll love it because it’s American.” No, Hulu. No we won’t.

If they were trying to target foreigners they’ve made some key mistakes. First, you can only sign up for the service if you give them a credit card number– no furikomi or pay at a convenience store options are available. As many of you know, getting a credit card in Japan is incredibly difficult for foreigners, meaning we’d have to sign up using credit cards that were issued in our home countries. So then I’m not paying ¥1480 a month, am I? I’m paying (at today’s exchange rates) $19.25 U.S. PLUS fees for using my credit card overseas.

I’m not opposed to paying for content, but the content has to be worth buying. Right now, it’s not worth the ¥1480 a month to see Hulu in Japan when there are other ways of getting the American shows you want to watch for much cheaper. I recommend holding off on buying a subscription to Hulu Japan until they get their act together, which may be a while.

Melanie is a 3rd year ALT based in Kahoku who now has to remember to cancel a Hulu Japan subscription before she gets charged for it on Oct. 2.

5 thoughts on “Hulu Japan Launches, But Falls Flat

  1. Good to know–I thought about it, but I think I’ll pass unless they make it more user-friendly and get more content.

  2. I think they are trying to help out the thousands of US military personnel stationed in Japan. We have emailed them numerous times asking if we can access HULU. When you live off base it’s impossible.

  3. Getting a Japanese credit card is not nearly as difficult as you make it out to be. Just apply for one from your mobile phone provider. Rakuten and Amazon are also both more than eager to extend credit to foreign-born consumers.

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