Executives from MTV Networks were in Tokyo to launch their new Japan-exclusive mobile and online entertainment channel, Flux. The service will initially be available exclusively on KDDI through au EZWeb. Subscription fees are set at 315 yen per month. Scheduled to begin broadcasting on June 30th, Flux targets 13-34 year-olds with original Japanese video and animation productions and programming from the global MTV Networks library. Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants will splash down onto Flux as well – his first adventures in Japan outside Nick network here. Nickelodeon and MTV are part of the Viacom Inc. broadcasting empire.
Two locally produced animations already signed on are Lightman, described in a press release as “a superhero who battles against the forces of evil,” (no, you’re kidding? Against evil?) and “Hanamoski”, a series of clips “starring an elephant with a very long trunk”. That’s nice. Clips will be broadcast on mobile in 1-3 minute episodes, see the press release for more programming details.
One of Japan’s top female pop singers, Utada Hikaru, has agreed to come on board and host what MTV says is the world?fs first mobile video music series. That makes her an MTV MVJ. Japanese animator Koji Morimoto will create short animations in collaboration with FLUX and Utada Hikaru incorporating music from her last album, Exodus.
MTV is currently negotiating with other Japanese carriers and expects to expand Flux over other mobile networks in the next few months. Flux.net.jp, their online website, will not launch until autumn. Once it is up and running users can juggle subscription fees and/or be able to purchase top-ups for extra content paying through their monthly mobile phone bill or by credit card.
MTV has been active in mobile content here for several years. MTV Mobile contracts content with all three carriers, providing a mix of free and fee-based services. In October 2004, MTV and KDDI started a free advertising sponsored show linking MTV programming and wireless content. Another service,
Music Finder, identifies music tracks for au EzWeb and Vodafone users. Subscribers dial a four-digit code, hold the mobile close to the music source and then wait while an email zips to them with the name of the artist and the song.
Though Flux will initially be Japan only, MTV is looking at continued expansion of mobile services into other Asian markets particularly Korea with its mature 3G market and, of course, China.
– Gail Nakada