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Business deals

Docomo offers Disney content in preparation for 5G era

Subscribers in Japan getting access to Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies

BARCELONA, Spain -- U.S. entertainment group Walt Disney and Japanese wireless carrier NTT Docomo will debut a video-streaming service in Japan next month, the latest tie-up between a media company and a telecom business ahead of the introduction of ultrafast 5G data service.

Docomo subscribers will gain access to a wide variety of content. This will be the first service in Japan to offer the latest titles of four Disney studios: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.

Disney is moving to launch its own video-streaming service, Disney+, in the U.S. in the second half of this year. As the California-based company navigates a rapidly changing business environment and explores various options for generating income, cultivating the Japanese market is a key part of this effort.

Working with Docomo, which had around 68 million reward point members in Japan as of late December, gives Disney an advantage.

Docomo, for its part, is betting on Disney's deep lineup. The U.S. company has many hits like "Frozen" and the "Star Wars" film series, and has a broad fan base spanning multiple age groups.

With 5G service expected to be up to 100 times faster than current mobile network services, Docomo is considering offering content viewable with virtual- and augmented-reality technologies, and the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone unit is sharpening its focus on partnerships with content providers. It will make affiliate NTT Plala, the video-streaming and content production unit of NTT Communications, a subsidiary around July.

Rival KDDI has joined hands with U.S. video-streaming giant Netflix, which offers an array of original programs. Collaboration between telecom and media companies is expected to increase.

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