Hulu sells Japan business to focus on US

The sale to Nippon TV marks an end to Hulu's international aspirations

Hulu has sold its Japanese business to broadcaster Nippon Television Network (Nippon TV) and will focus on its U.S. operations.

The deal is expected to be finalized in spring pending regulatory conditions, the two companies said.

The move marks Hulu's retreat from overseas operations and a refocus on its U.S. business. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we felt the best path forward is to sell the company -- Nippon TV is the top broadcaster in Japan, so they are a logical strategic partner," Meredith Kendall, a spokeswoman for Hulu, wrote in an email.

Hulu in Japan launched in September 2011 as its first overseas expansion. The service streams TV shows, films and other content for ¥980 (about US$9.60) per month.

It has 50 content partners that offer more than 13,000 titles and is accessible on more than 90 million devices in the Japan market, not including PCs.

"We're looking forward to adding Nippon TV contents to our service," said a spokeswoman for Hulu's Japan service. "In addition, we are planning to add more Hollywood content and domestic content."

Tokyo-based Nippon TV is a major private broadcaster that marked 60 years on the air in 2013.

The deal is its first foray into the subscription video-on-demand business. The broadcaster will set up a 100 percent-owned subsidiary to operate the Hulu business, according to a Nippon TV spokesman.

"Hulu will be licensing our brand and technology and will continue to provide services to the Japan business -- loyal fans of the service will enjoy the same seamless user experience and product innovation they have come to love," Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins wrote in a blog post.

"I'm confident that the Hulu business in Japan is in very good hands, and Nippon TV will take the service to new heights, with the added benefit of allowing us to focus on our growing business here in the U.S."

Hulu does not have any international plans to announce at this time, Kendall said.

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Tags internetHuluInternet-based applications and servicesNippon TV

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Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
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