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Media & Entertainment

Netflix hikes Japan prices after pandemic pulls in 2m new users

First increase in over two years to provide cash for more content

Netflix plans to offer more that 25 new works produced in Japan this year.

TOKYO -- Netflix will raise the prices of its streaming plans in Japan by up to 13% on Friday, leveraging a subscriber base that has expanded sharply amid the pandemic to invest in its growing library of original content, Nikkei has learned.

The cost of the standard plan will rise to 1,490 yen ($14) per month, 170 yen more than the current level, while the bare-bones basic plan will jump to 990 yen from 880 yen. The premium plan, which includes 4K Ultra HD, will stay at 1,980 yen.

The American streaming company has raised monthly subscription fees by $1 to $3, depending on the plan, in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in recent months to help fund content production.

With the coronavirus keeping consumers stuck at home more than usual, Netflix added roughly 2 million subscribers in Japan over the past year to bring its total to more than 5 million.

Japan is an important market for the company as a source of content as well. Netflix has partnered with anime studios and creators and plans to offer more than 25 original works from Japan this year.

Pandemic-driven changes in consumption patterns have given a boost to streaming services here more broadly. Tokyo-based research firm Gem Partners expects the market to reach 438.9 billion yen ($4.18 billion) in 2024, up 60% from 2019.

Unlike Netflix, local players "have avoided price hikes and prioritized adding new subscribers," said Koichi Yomoda of the Visual Media Research Institute. Japanese services Paravi and NHK On Demand each cost less than $10 a month.

Once the market's growth peters out, competition will hinge on quality and quantity of content, and services that lack a strong library risk falling by the wayside.

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