There are now around 26 million broadband connections in Japan, with some of the fastest and cheapest services among Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (Oecd) countries. Many consumers watch TV on computers with built in TiVo-like functions, increasing the audience for the dramas that are often made into movies.
Unlike most countries, Yahoo! trumps Google in Japan with its extensive shopping and auction services and highly localised information. Yahoo! is also a major source of movie information and now offers full movie and DVD previews.
This March, Yahoo! expanded its video services with a 'home screening' subsite (or 'feature'). Members can enter an online lottery for the chance to watch theatrical and DVD releases at the same time, or sometimes before, titles hit cinemas or DVD rental shops. Screenings have included Bugmaster, Shindo and Locarno opener Vexille.
Additionally, Yahoo! Japan began investing in films last year, including TBS/Universal Japan's Dororo, Koji Yakusho-starrer Argentine Hag, Midnight Sun and Helen The Baby Fox.
Many Japanese people prefer to access the internet by mobile phone rather than by PC, and the number of 3G phones reached 75 million this year.
Aside from watching video clips and terrestrial TV through the 1seg broadcast protocol, full feature films are slowly becoming available for mobile. In July, Kadokawa Pictures was the first major to announce streaming of full features via mobile. i-Movie Gate offers subscribers a growing selection of titles from the Kadokawa library through a point purchase system. The deal is part of a $34.5m (Yen4bn) tie-up between Kadokawa and DoCoMo Japan, Japan's number one mobile provider.
SoftBank, the internet giant and the mobile market's third-biggest player, holds a 41.1% majority share in Yahoo! Japan and has acquired content companies including broadcast rights licenser Broadmedia Studio, in a bid to enter theatrical distribution. Broadmedia made a splash this year with news of its distribution of Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse (both the US version and the split films).
The Japanese penchant for novels and manga has become yet another standard use boom for mobile content providers.
Bestselling author Shusuke Shizukui published a serialised version of his novel Closed Note exclusively via mobile, garnering more than a million hits. Its popularity led to a hard copy in January 2006 by Kadokawa Publishing before a consortium was formed with producer-distributor Toho. The film is released September 29.