RealTime IT News

Japanese Internet Video on the Rise

Yahoo's Japanese subsidiary has formed a broadcast company with Internet services firm Softbank that will stream television programs over the Internet, in an attempt leverage the vast numbers of Japanese users with advanced, high-speed Internet connections.

The Tokyo-based Yahoo Japan and Softbank, Japan's second-biggest provider of high-speed Internet services, said the new streaming video service, dubbed "Yahoo!Doga," will be a portal site for about 100,000 programs including movies, sports and music shows, as well as drama series from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Doga means "moving image" in Japanese.

The joint venture, which will operate under the name TV Bank, is likely to force Japanese broadcast companies to move their business models further toward the Web. Japan has one of the highest rates of broadband adoption in the world, according to Softbank.

"Japan has the infrastructure for this kind of service, so it would be a shame not to use it," said Masayoshi Son, Softbank CEO, according to "Nihon Keizai Shimbun."

"We think the way to go is to not try to control one broadcaster, but work with all of them," he said, referring to recent attempts by Internet companies Rakuten and Livedoor to take over television networks.

A beta of the service is scheduled to launch in March.

Tokyo-based Softbank said it hopes to link 40 million users of Yahoo Japan's portal site to the new service, but no timeframe was specified.

Some of the content would be sponsored by advertisers, while some would be provided on a pay-per-view basis, the companies said.

As consumers continue to clamor for more content over the Internet, global broadband penetration is expected to accelerate. Both the paid and advertising-supported broadband video markets exceeded 100 percent growth in 2005 over the previous year, according to ABI, and as consumer demand increases, content owners' demand for alternative outlets is expected to follow. In the United States alone, growth is predicted to reach $16 billion through the end of the decade, ABI said.