Hulu To Start Streaming In The Land of the Rising Sun

Premium video streaming site Hulu has just announced that it’s about to make its first international expansion: Japan.

Hulu is keeping mum on the details, but it sounds like it will only offer a premium subscription service (the US version of Hulu offers both premium and free content). The company now has an office in Tokyo and is working on preparing for launch “later this year” (again, no more details on that front).

From the blog post:

We are excited about entering Japan right now for a number of reasons. For one thing, Nihon wa subarashii kuni desu (“Japan is a wonderful country”). Japanese audiences are passionate about premium video content, and the country is a major producer of world-class TV and feature films (Japanese content has played an important part of Hulu’s content lineup in the United States for a long time already). In Japan, we also see an unfulfilled market need with respect to premium feature film and TV content, and very favorable environmental factors to a service like ours, including extensive broadband penetration, smart phone and other internet-connected device ubiquity, and strong consumer interest. We have been able to use what we have learned from Hulu and Hulu Plus, in addition to the insights gleaned from our market research, to design a high value product specifically tailored for Japanese customers.

Hulu has established itself in the United States as a prime destination for watching the latest television shows (and, increasingly, movies) featuring content like The Daily Show and The Office. It launched Hulu Plus in June 2010, which is a premium subscription version of the site that costs $7.99 and offers more content across more devices, including the iPad and Xbox 360.

It is also hampered by the frustrating restrictions of content owners, who enjoy making their content available for arbitrary time periods and then removing it. Not that it’s ever burned me.