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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Nippon TV

Programming Profile

Nippon TV unveils drama-laden digital playlist

Japan’s Nippon TV is looking to capitalise on growing global demand for non-English-language content and has nine of its best dramas in its C21 Digital Screenings.

 

Japan’s Nippon TV is one of the biggest broadcasting and production companies in the country, and is behind shows such as global reality format hit Dragons’ Den.

 

The company also has a big presence in the scripted formats space and has selected nine drama series for its C21 Screenings playlist that are all available immediately to buy either as finished tape or as formats for adaptation, according to Yuki Akehi, head of marketing for international business development.

 

Akehi
Yuki Akehi, Nippon TV

Akehi explains that while in the past Nippon TV’s scripted series have more commonly been picked up for local adaptation, the recent increasing popularity of non-English-language dramas means it is also hoping to sell the original Japanese versions with subtitles. In addition, the production freeze happening across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic means international buyers are particularly keen to acquire shows that are finished and ready to go.

 

“Our aim this time is to heighten the recognition for sales of our scripted formats, but the current situation has impacted our decision about which shows to include in the playlist as well, as these drama series are gaining attention as ready-made programmes for subtitling,” Akehi says.

 

“Until recently, they were more likely to be chosen as candidates for local adaptation in other countries. But with the progressing and increasing success of non-English-language content globally, we believe our series can be appreciated by non-Asian viewers as well.

 

Your Turn to Kill
Your Turn to Kill

“We were especially delighted to see C21 Screenings launch the Theme Festival for Non-English Language Drama; it comes at the ripe timing when non-English-speaking and non-European countries gain attention for quality content and stories that captivate any audience.

 

“Buyers looking for this kind of content must already know that Japan has a lot to offer, and we wish to be connected through this event. All these series can be adapted as scripted formats in any country and its platforms, as well as shown as finished programmes with local subtitles.”

 

Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom
Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom

According to Akehi, crime drama Your Turn to Kill was produced in the hope that the original version would capture international buyers’ attention as a local-language series, rather than for adaptation.

 

“Your Turn to Kill was created with this in mind from the start, understanding the level of the international drama viewing community’s taste for quality suspense crime series with a new and unique hook,” she says.

 

“It is a spine-chilling mystery with 20 episodes that are sure to make people binge watch to find out the astonishing truth at the end. It is, of course, also available for remake by our international partners, adding their local essence and spice to our intriguing storyline.”

 

Woman -My Life for My Children-
Woman -My Life for My Children-

Akehi advises buyers who are new to Nippon TV’s shows to take a look at Your Turn to Kill first, in addition to Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom, a thriller in which a teacher takes his students hostage 10 days before their graduation. The latter series, which premiered on Nippon TV in 2019, was picked up for local adaptation earlier this year by Medyapim for Fox TV in Turkey.

 

Another title on the playlist, which was also picked up for Turkish adaptation by Medyapim in 2017, is Woman -My Life for My Children-. The drama follows a widowed mother desperate to provide for her children but whose financial struggles force the family into poverty.

 

My Lover’s Secret
My Lover’s Secret

“Medyapim produced three tremendously successful year-long seasons, each consisting of more than 30 episodes,” Akehi says. “This story can grip the hearts of global audiences who love stories with a strong female lead, but who has so many weaknesses too when it comes to supporting her children. It really captures the complexity and hardship but also the wonderfulness that women, and men, face when raising a family in this day and age.”

 

Also on the playlist is My Lover’s Secret, in which a boy kills his father in order to protect his mother from domestic violence. He and his mother cover up their actions and must keep their secret for years to come, until it threatens to be revealed when the boy falls in love and must decide how far he will go to keep the secret from his partner.

 

Our Dearest Sakura
Our Dearest Sakura

Similarly to Your Turn to Kill, Akehi describes My Lover’s Secret as a “binge-watchable story full of suspense and a surprising ending.”

 

Meanwhile, Our Dearest Sakura follows a female graduate from the countryside as she embarks on a training programme at Japan’s biggest construction firm and pursues her dream of building a bridge to her home town. “Please don’t be put off by the title that includes a Japanese name,” Akehi urges. “It can make anyone who has experienced hardship in friendship feel liberated.”

 

I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper.
I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper.

The final series on Nippon TV’s playlist is I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper., which Akehi says has not only achieved the highest ratings of all nine dramas on the playlist but of all Nippon TV’s shows in its history.

 

The series follows a housekeeper who perfectly completes everything she is asked to do but never smiles, is always emotionless and her mind is unreadable. She begins working for a family that is recovering from the death of the mother, and one day is asked to do something unthinkable.

 

“We always have had the savvy South Korean drama producers adapt our formats, but they were especially quick to act when I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper. was gaining record-breaking ratings in Japan, episode after episode, every week. They cast a very popular Korean actress and created their original version, which was so well produced that it was aired back in Japan as well,” Akehi notes.

 

Abandoned
Abandoned

During the coronavirus pandemic, Nippon TV has experienced a big increase in demand for both its scripted and unscripted series, according to Akehi. Last month, UK-based ITV Studios acquired the international production rights to its gameshow format Red Carpet Survival.

 

“We have seen a big change and increase in demand for our scripted formats based on our hit drama series, as well as international adaptations of our most hilarious gameshow formats,” Akehi says.

 

“This is all thanks to our international partners who have adapted our scripted formats, starting with Mother, which has been sold into South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, France and more. Woman -My Life for My Children- and Abandoned are following strong, as well as our unscripted formats Block Out, Sokkuri Sweets and Old Enough! We select and create formats so that they are all very unique, can work in any region and, most importantly, are tremendously satisfying to watch.”

 

Red Carpet Survival
Red Carpet Survival

The pandemic has, however, meant new productions of Nippon TV’s formats have had to be put on hold until filming is allowed to resume in their respective countries. The Turkish adaptation of Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom, for example, was postponed mid-season.

 

“The Teacher, the Turkish adaptation of our scripted format Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom, started airing at the beginning of March and recorded the highest ratings of a first episode in the past 10 years. But sadly it had to halt mid-season, for the time being. Our partners at Medyapim are taking every measure possible to ensure that when it resumes it does so as safely as possible,” Akehi says.

 

Block Out
Block Out

“All new format productions are on hold, but negotiations, talks, preparations and sales promotion have not stopped. In fact, we have new deals that were agreed during this time which we hope to be able to announce soon.

 

“It will take quite some time and caution for our format clients to resume production, but we are always flexible to advise on changes that can be made to the format in order to make it work.”

 

As for Nippon TV’s playlist titles, Akehi is confident they will attract buyers in various locations, both as subtitled originals and adapted formats. “Our stories are so captivating, all with a unique story with an irresistible edge. We attribute this powerful creativity to the fact that we produce three new primetime drama series each season, adding up to a total of 12 series annually,” she says.

 

“The competition is furious, not only in the industry but within our company as well. This leads to our series being very well strategised, knowing what the audience wants. Japanese viewers love watching international series as well, which makes for an audience with a keen eye that we must satisfy. Of course, you can subtitle them in your own language, but I am also confident that you will find a story that will make you want to produce it yourself, your way.”