Video streaming site Hulu is doing away with its Japanese subsidiary, the company announced today, selling the unit to Nippon TV. The sale might mark the end of the company’s international ambitions, as Hulu focuses more on its catchup TV service in the U.S.
Hulu has been operating in Japan since 2011, when it launched its subscription streaming service there. Over the years, the company had amassed a huge content library, which include more than 13,000 video assets from 50 different content partners.
When it first became clear that Hulu was looking to launch in Japan, it seemed like that market might be the first in many new international markets that the company looked to expand into.
It was, after all, around the same time that Netflix began its own international expansion. And such a move would give content owners new revenue streams from licensing their content in foreign markets.
But after that first international launch, Hulu more or less stayed put.
Over time, Hulu apparently found that the Japanese unit wasn’t core to its long-term plan to offer up streaming, ad-supported video from U.S.-based content partners. And that maybe the business was more valuable to someone else — in this case, Nippon TV.
In a blog post, new Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins wrote:
“We have now reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we feel the best path forward is to sell the company to a strategic buyer. I’m announcing today that Hulu’s Japan business is to be acquired by Nippon Television Network Corporation (Nippon TV), who will assume the day-to-day operations and management of the business at the closing of the transaction.”
According to the blog post, Hulu will continue licensing its brand and content to the Nippon TV, and it appears that the company will also provide some infrastructure services to the new owner as well. But with the change in ownership, Japanese users will also get access to more content, as the broadcaster will bring on a wide range of its own TV shows onto the Hulu Japan site.
“In addition to assuming the day-to-day management of the Japan business, Nippon TV will be adding popular Nippon TV titles to the service,” Hopkins wrote.
For Hulu, the decision may have come as the company moves to focus more on its U.S. operations and double down on becoming the TV Everywhere home for broadcast TV. While it continues to add paid subscribers to its $7.99 Hulu Plus offering — now at 5 million in the U.S. — it’s also working on getting more broadcast content available through authentication deals with networks and distributors.
That should come as little surprise, especially since Hulu’s owners 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, and The Walt Disney Company have committed an additional $750 million to fund the company’s operations. Also since Fox veteran Mike Hopkins was named CEO of the company.
Nevertheless, with $1 billion in revenue in 2013 and no signs of slowing down, Hulu’s not going anywhere in the U.S. It just might not be going anywhere internationally, either.