Softbank, the Japanese broadband giant, is planning a global rollout of its online video service TV Bank (the link won’t work outside Japan for now), paidContent.org has learned. The service, which launched in beta in Japan last month, will roll out there commercially in March next year, and will have phased rollouts in other countries over the next year.
The company is serious enough that Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Softbank, has himself been traveling and meeting CEO of major media companies around the world. He was in Taiwan and India last week, and met with media companies there, according a source familiar with the discussions. Softbank already has signed up companies in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and India, and is in negotiations in Europe and Latin America.
In U.S., his content acquisition and technology lieutenants have been hovering around for a year now, and have talked to Comcast and Viacom, among others, though no specific deal has been signed. The source said that Softbank is in “advanced negotiations” with the major companies here in U.S.
In Japan, the TV Bank streaming service is free (ad-supported) and that’s believed to be the model for other rollouts. VOD services may be charged for in the future.
Softbank is keen on using its expertise developed with Yahoo BB, Japan’s second biggest broadband service, along with the adjoining video service, to market the platform to other media companies around the world. In the U.S., it has had serious talks with Comcast for the cable giant to adopt Softbank’s platform.
The idea is to create a global syndicated hub of video, though some media executives I spoke to are skeptical about Softbank’s chances on making this online service a success in the U.S where it will be competing against all the big portals as well as other homegrown services. Plus, even though Softbank’s service is IP-based, it is not as open as the others, and definitely not self-service friendly, from what I know.