September 02, 2023

dLibrary Japan (big upgrade in the works)

A couple of months ago, I earned an Amazon gift card for participating in a lengthy survey from NHK Cosmomedia about the kind of content I would expect from a streaming service that resembled TV Japan. And how much I'd be willing to pay.

By next April, we should find out the results from that survey.

Changes are afoot at NHK Cosmomedia, which owns and operates (along with Japan International Broadcasting) dLibrary Japan, NHK World, and TV Japan (also known as NHK World Premium).

I've speculated about the possibilities before. Cable cutting is surely eating into TV Japan's subscriber base. The (free) NHK World streaming service already carries a considerable amount of localized NHK edutainment material, including the all-important sumo tournaments.

dLibrary Japan recently started streaming series after their first run on TV Japan and shows after they debuted in Japan. With sumo bouts covered by NHK World, the only programming on TV Japan I really miss are the Taiga and Asadora dramas, and live news from Japan (in Japanese).

NHK World streams news on the hour from its own bureaus, half of the day from New York, and all in English. But, frankly, a lot of the time, I get the feeling that the NHK World anchors think they're on CNN. News from North America often gets more airtime than anything to do with Japan.

dLibrary Japan could become the VOD library for TV Japan, including real-time news and commentary.

It's never had a backlist and only held onto content for a year or two. While services like Retrocrush specialize in classic anime, long-running series like Abarenbo Shogun remain unknown outside Japan. (You can watch Shadow Warriors and a couple of tokusatsu series on Tubi.)

NHK World is available via streaming, OTA, and VOD, so NHK Cosmomedia doesn't need to reinvent the wheel. Ideally, they'd integrate the services in a single app with paid and unpaid tiers. But easier said than done, which is why dLibrary Japan is going on hiatus for several months.

Though I suspect that NHK Cosmomedia's more immediate goal is to rebuild dLibrary Japan with the capacity for future expansion, which will take place at a later date. A Roku app that actually works would be a big step forward.

In any case, for now, dLibrary Japan stopped enrolling new customers on 9/1/2023 and won't post new content after 9/30/2023. The service will go offline on 10/31/2023.

Don't panic! The official press release (which has been updated several times since the original announcement) promises they will be back!

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming introduction of an upgraded streaming distribution service. This renewed service will bring you an even richer selection of Japanese content and improved performance, including the addition of NHK news viewing. To make way for these enhancements, the current dLibrary Japan service will be suspended.

Well, I do like that bit about the news. All we know at this juncture is that the new service will launch "within fiscal year 2023." In Japan, that means before the end of March 2024. They won't need five months to update the apps and servers, so other stuff must be going on behind the scenes too.

I am very curious find out what sort of "upgraded streaming distribution service" NHK Cosmomedia has in store.

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# posted by Blogger Chicago Viewer
1/28/2024 10:58 AM   
Hi Eugene,

dLibrary was heavily advertised on TV Japan but stopped months ago so this explains the reasoning. I had no idea that dLibrary was operated by the TV Japan folks and this all makes sense now. I currently have TV Japan with AT&T U-Verse and was looking to switch providers since the cost keeps going up. As of today, TV Japan no longer shows as an available international channel to subscribe on Xfinity Comcast and DIRECTV websites. This prompt to research about the missing channel possible reasoning but could not find any information until I came across your amazing website. I hope finally TV Japan will launch a direct to consumer option so we can finally cut the cord and save a lot of money. I greatly appreciate the information and insight. We shall hope for the best.