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Japan Program Catalog - BEAJ

Programming Profile

BEAJ members welcome Japanese content export boom


Members of the Broadcast Program Export Association of Japan explore the trends behind the growth in international demand for Japanese content as they showcase their latest programmes via C21’s Digital Screenings portal.


Exports of Japanese broadcast content are on the up, according to data from the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications. Figures for the full year 2021 show that total exports stood at approximately Y65.56bn (US$445m), an increase of 15% on the previous year, and the number of broadcast programmes licensed overseas was 3,824 for that year, up 8% on 2020.


Breaking down the data further, we can see that US$86.5m was generated by the sale of broadcasting rights, US$156m by internet distribution rights, US$11m by format rights and US$181m by licensing and merchandising rights, mainly for Japan’s hugely popular animé series that account for the lion’s share of the country’s content exports.


Animation, for instance, accounted for over 85% of those export figures for 2021, while drama was 5.5% of the total and variety/entertainment 4.7%. In terms of where demand is greatest, Asia is obviously the biggest market for Japanese content, generating 51% of revenues. North America accounted for 28% of total export revenue and Europe was just under 9%.


ABC Japan

The growth of Japanese content exports should come as no surprise as global audiences consume a more diverse diet of content, all aided by the boom in streaming. But while the numbers can give us part of the picture, C21 caught up with the Broadcast Program Export Association of Japan, which surveyed its members that are appearing in this week’s Digital Screenings playlist to hear about the issues that are front of mind for them. The following is a summary of their responses:


Chukyo TV Broadcasting Co., Ltd.

What steps are being taken to address the fact that the younger generation are spending less time watching TV?
Although this is a global phenomenon, amid the declining trend in viewership and advertising revenues due to the diversification of viewing patterns and devices, broadcasters in Japan are using social networking and OTT platforms that are used by the younger generation. Although viewing devices are diverging, broadcaster-produced content is still being watched on those devices, so broadcasters attracting viewers back to TV by reaching them outside of real-time viewing, securing revenue by making their content available on a wide variety of devices.


In addition, many broadcasters in Japan are working to expand their distribution via catch-up streaming, increase their non-broadcasting revenues and diversify their revenue sources through merchandising, e-commerce and events, for example. When licensing content overseas, many broadcasters are narrowing granted rights so that multiple licences can be made in the same region, considering all the new ways audiences can now watch content.


Fuji Television Network, Inc.

How are changes in TV channel programming impacting the volume of drama productions?
In terms of content production, the number of dramas – especially for late-night slots – is on the rise because of an increase in the number of licences granted to video distribution platforms and also targeting viewership via streaming. Niche and core topics appear to be increasingly used as subject matter as well.


How is demand for unscripted and scripted formats changing, as well as the actual number of licences granted?
Demand for unscripted formats seems to have bounced back with the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Until last year, music-based formats such as The Masked Singer were popular around the world, but recently there seems to be increasing demand for social experiment reality formats.


Nippon TV

Crazy Japanese gameshows, which have always been popular, continue to be in demand, and there is also much interest in heart-warming content that is uniquely Japanese. One example is Nippon TV reality show Old Enough!. Furthermore, the obstacle course competition based on TBS’s Ninja Warrior format has been officially adopted as one of the five disciplines of the modern pentathlon for the 2028 LA Olympics, and so demand for local versions has been increasing.


Kansai TV

As for scripted formats, interest in Asia, including Japan, is increasing due in part to the worldwide attention given to Korean dramas – but the criteria for selecting titles are becoming stricter. Offers are concentrated on programmes that have gained popularity in Japan, and there are high expectations for Nippon TV’s comedy/drama Rebooting, because of its huge success mainly in Asia.


Some suggest that Japanese dramas are not easy to remake due to the limited number of episodes, but the average number of eps for dramas on global OTT platforms is around 10, suggesting this is less of a hurdle.


NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.

Local remakes of Japanese scripted formats from North America and Turkey are very important for BEAJ members, as the remakes made in Turkey often sell into the Middle East, Africa and South America.


How is Japanese programming changing after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic?
When it comes to entertainment shows, there has been a reduction in the number of performers in an effort to avoid social contact. This was a measure originally taken during the pandemic, but the impression is that the number of performers has not returned to the same level as before the crisis because the programmes are still viable and cost-effective.


Tokyo Broadcasting System Television

In terms of programme content and preferences, there is a trend towards shows with feel-good, positive messages. In addition, as more programmes are produced with OTT platforms in mind, it appears that a wider range of topics are covered, which means Japanese content is becoming more diverse.


Which genres of Japanese content enjoy the highest international demand?
Japanese animation continues to be strong worldwide. Demand for drama is also high, especially in Asia, and while heartwarming themes continue to be popular, it seems that titles with unique, unusual or outlandish settings are also attracting buyers’ attention. Inquiries about entertainment formats from China, furthermore, seem to be increasing.


TV Asahi Corporation

How is Japanese drama evolving in terms of tone, style and format?
Overall, there has been a polarisation. On the one hand, there are dramas produced by and for OTT platforms that are achieving quality through higher production budgets than ever before, while on the other hand, there is an increasing number of shortform programmes made with cost-effectiveness in mind.


TV Tokyo Corporation

How has the popularity of streaming and shortform affected broadcasters’ content production?
In the past, real-time TV ratings were the only indicators of success in programme production, but recently the number of views on OTT and streaming has also become an important factor. In addition to content strategies that maximise broadcasting through promotional use of streaming and short excerpts for social media, productions focusing on streaming and shortform are increasing. Also, there are many cases of live-action and adaptations of popular works on social media, and some broadcasters are using this as a way to start trends.


How are BEAJ members embracing coproduction and what are some examples?
TBS coproduced the drama DCU with Keshet International of Israel; TV Tokyo coproduced the popular drama How to Enjoy Solo S4 with Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan; and public broadcaster NHK coproduced Amazing Dinoworld 2 with partners in France, Germany and the US.


Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (YTV)

Furthermore, Fuji TV is producing teen drama Heart Attack in collaboration with Skybound Entertainment in the US, while TV Asahi produced Crazy Elevator with Red Arrow Studios and animated series Obocchama-Kun with Sony Pictures Networks India. Lastly, Nippon TV has worked with BBC Studios and Empire of Arkadia on an unscripted format called KOSO KOSO.