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Nippon TV

Programming Profile

Sticking to the script with Japan’s Nippon TV


Sayako Aoki, head of scripted format sales at Nippon TV, discusses how the market is changing, the impact of streaming and what new IP the Japanese company is showcasing in C21’s Digital Screenings this week.


Nippon TV has been in the headlines in recent weeks, reflecting how busy the Japanese company has been shopping its content around the globe and forging international alliances. On the sales front, Nippon has been sending scripted formats into territories as varied as Turkey and Spain, having particular success with a well-travelled drama called Mother.


The company has also seen sales for another scripted format, Oasis – A Love Story, which follows an unhappy 27-year-old woman who feigns memory loss in order to embed herself into a loving family. To further grow its international drama business, the company most recently partnered with London-based media company Envision Entertainment to jointly develop an innovative project called CONNECTED, a crime drama series taking place largely online.


Sayako Aoki, Nippon TV

The Japanese version of CONNECTED will air on Nippon TV in April 2022 and features a 20-something housebound detective in Tokyo struggling to solve a crime with the help of his international online peers. The project was inspired by Nippon TV’s scripted series Double Booking, produced and broadcast in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, and the same production team, led by Nippon’s creative director Itaru Mizuno, is taking part in the project.


We spoke to Sayako Aoki, head of scripted format sales at Nippon TV, to hear more.


How is global demand for scripted formats from Japan changing?
We feel that the appetite among global viewers for stories originally coming from non-English-language content is growing and is contributing to the diversification of the scripted format industry. This is increasing the potential of such series becoming the next global hits, which can lead to bigger opportunities for our Japanese formats.



How did lockdown impact the market for scripted formats?
During lockdown, there was an instant and increased need for finished tape and for projects with super-quick turnarounds, while buyers put new projects that had a relatively normal, pre-Covid style on hold. The demand for high-quality and diverse drama stories for scripted format adaptations has become higher, targeting the post-Covid times. This has been accelerated by the increased exposure of viewers to TV and platforms during lockdown and the successful titles viewed during that time, and we feel buyers are open to more adventurous projects now.


What genres of programming are selling best as scripted formats and where is demand for scripted formats from Japan highest?
Dramas featuring female characters tackling issues of society, family, love or crime-related elements are selling best as scripted formats. And the countries where demand is highest include Turkey, South Korea, Thailand and China. However, we are seeing increasing demand coming from the US and European countries too.


How has the growth of streaming in recent years changed demand for scripted formats?
The growth of streaming has created more opportunities for new types of collaborations and innovative projects. For example, Nippon TV has recently announced a new drama series format called CONNECTED. Co-developed with Envision Entertainment from the UK, it is a project aiming to create a shared drama universe on global digital streaming platforms. The story unfolds in a shared universe where characters from all over the world are ‘connected’ to each other through the internet using their superior online research skills to solve crimes.


Dark Doubt
Dark Doubt

They form an exclusive online community known as Homebound Detectives, working primarily from their homes, whether it is in London, Seoul or Berlin, with their own problems, stories and mysteries to tackle. A Japanese version of the series will air in Japan on Nippon TV in April 2022. It features a young civilian detective homebound in Tokyo solving a crime with the help of his international online peers. This Japanese series would lead into more mysteries, creating another drama series featuring different local characters as protagonists in the UK or anywhere around the world, still all connected by the internet, sharing the same universe as the Japanese version.


Production-wise, this is an innovative project that combines unique online screen set-ups and conventional single-camera set-ups, perfect for adaptations by global streaming platforms for their savvy viewers, with numerous opportunities for additional series, sequels and spin-offs.


How has heightened global demand for Japanese originals impacted demand for remake rights?
Having the original series become widely known around the world is very important in showing its potential. This is especially true for scripted formats, whose success as remakes, such as Mother, was initially due to the original version catching the attention of local producers.


Turbo Brain
Turbo Brain

Which scripted formats has your company had the most success with?
Our most successful scripted format is Mother, rated as the most exported scripted format out of Asia, and it has been licensed into eight countries so far with the expectation of a few more versions to follow in 2022. Mother is an emotional story featuring universal themes of family and motherhood, but the story evolves with other intriguing elements such as mystery and crime. We are analysing that this powerful combination helps to increase viewer engagement, and makes it travel across regions.


What can you tell us about the formats you are showcasing via C21’s Digital Screenings?
We have a wide range of formats that we want C21’s readers to acquire, from romance to suspense scripted series, and innovative unscripted studio gameshows. We have several new titles for MipTV and will be adding them very soon and hope readers will keep viewing us on C21 Digital Screenings.


What sales of scripted formats has your company made in recent months?
In Spain, Atresmedia’s adaptation of our scripted format Mother, titled Heridas, will be available on ATRESplayer Premium soon. It is an Atresmedia TV production in collaboration with Buendía Estudios, and follows the success of Mother as a local production in other territories such as Turkey, China, France, South Korea, Ukraine and Thailand.

More programming profiles

  • 18-06-2020

    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.