hulu japan launchThe parlor game of who’s going to shell out the billions to buy Hulu aside, the video network is still making headlines this week. Today it officially launched Hulu Japan—its first country outside of the U.S.—with a subscription-only service featuring content from NBCu, CBS, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney/ABC and other partners.

The move to go 100% ad free with Hulu.jp, offering its “hundreds” of movies and “thousands” of TV episodes at ¥1,480 per month (or about $19.25 US), is a bit of a surprise, though makes sense given its four-screen streaming strategy in a country much more accustomed to consuming content across multiple devices, particularly on smart phones.

The monthly fee allows subscribers access to the full catalog across the whole gambit of connected devices—via the web, through Sony and Panasonic internet-enabled TVs, gaming platforms (just Sony PS3 and XBox 360 for now), and smart phones like the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Where’s the Japanese Content?

As of launch, one notably missing chunk of content are Japanese TV and films, making this a pure-bred American import for the time being. But it’s in the works, according to Hulu’s SVP of International, Johannes Larcher. “As we’ve done in the U.S., we will rapidly and continually add content to the service,” he wrote this morning. “The content lineup will only become more robust over time, including the addition of Japanese-produced content and content from across the Asian region in the near term.”

Also notably missing for Japanese subscribers is US Hulu’s most popular TV series, Family Guy, instead offering up FOX’s King of The Hill as the only animated series.

And as for web originals like Dorm Life, Leap Year, Goodnight Burbank and the rest? Don’t expect them any time soon, as this international deal falls outside of the advertising rev-sharing deals that these series signed for distribution on US Hulu.

What it does signal however is a willingness for the US studios to come to terms on a flat-fee internet distribution service outside of our borders. A UK launch for Hulu was in the works, but later scrapped over content licensing hurdles back in 2009. Now it’s back on the planned docket with Spain and the UK next up for Hulu’s expansion overseas.

“As we celebrate the launch of Hulu in Japan, we are conscious that this is just the first of more markets outside of the U.S. for Hulu,” added Larcher.

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