February 14, 2024

Jme TV (grumpy old man edition)

The Jme TV website has been live for a month. It remains a work in progress. The layout is bare bones. Site navigation barely exists. A Roku player is "coming soon." But rest assured that "We are planning to add new features from April," which suggests the current website may simply be a placeholder.

To give credit where it is due, you can now bookmark shows in your browser and you don't get logged out every time you close the browser tab.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to fix the UI problems, such as a useless banner that takes up half of the home page. The oversized genre icons that belong in a menu. Get rid of horizontal scrolling. NHK World Japan has a list-based program guide. Viki has a grid-based program guide. Both are so much better. Pick one.

I really cannot overemphasize how badly designed the Jme TV website is and how difficult it would be to scale in its current configuration. Again, I have to hope it is only a placeholder and something better will emerge in April.

In Japan, everything starts in April, from the school year to the corporate fiscal year. Except for the NHK Taiga drama. It starts in January. Speaking of which, new episodes of the Taiga drama are being added every week. Along with other recent TV Japan content, the catalog no longer feels so threadbare.

Although it's akin to filling a swimming pool with a squirt gun.

My theory for the premature rollout is that NHK Cosmomedia went ahead and pulled the plug on its TV Japan cable contracts and has to fill that hole by April 2024 with something. They should have followed the herd and called the new site TV Japan Plus or NHK World Plus and reused what they had on hand.

As a previous dLibrary Japan subscriber, I signed up for $9.99/month. That $9.99/month price lasts three months and then skyrockets to $25/month, which makes this a three-month experiment. Nothing NHK Cosmomedia has put on the table so far is worth $9.99/month, let alone 2.5 times that.

Once upon a time, TV Japan had a monopoly on live-action Japanese content and could charge whatever the market could bear. That didn't mean we liked it. As one Reddit commenter puts it, "$25/month for mostly NHK through an already overpriced cable package was one of the larger ripoffs in my life."

Taken together, there is plenty of Japanese content on Viki ($5.99/month), Netflix ($6.99/month), and Crunchyroll ($7.99/month) I could be watching instead. All three don't add up to $25/month and I don't subscribe to all three at the same time. And that's not counting NHK World Japan (free) and Tubi (free).

The only criteria Tubi appears to follow when licensing Japanese content is that it's cheap and available. It's an approach that delivers a lot of dreck, but at the same time, often yields pleasant surprises, like the Edo period Detective Dobu television series from 1991. I just wish Tubi would make it easier to find.

If NHK Cosmomedia had any sense, it'd make the site free until it becomes fully functional and then copy Rakuten Viki's pricing plan, starting at $5.99/month.

It could offer a premium tier to those who want to watch live broadcasts and real-time news (though NHK's domestic news programs are free on the NHK World Premium website).

Anyway, we'll find out in April if there is any there there. I have to admit, morbid curiosity is my main motivation now. Like, you can't sign up for TV Japan using the information on the TV Japan website. It points you to providers who have removed TV Japan from their lineups. But that page hasn't been taken down.

This is the same page that states, "The price of TV Japan is about $15/month." That has never been true and yet it's been posted there for a year. One cynical explanation is that it doesn't matter because it's all going away in April. Another is that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

Oh, and to answer a previous question, the name "is derived from the hope that Jme can help bridge Japan (J) and (me)." At least the URL is easier to remember.

Related posts

Whither TV Japan
dLibrary Japan (big upgrade in the works)

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# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
4/01/2024 11:51 AM   
Well, here it is April: Shinnyuusha and everyone else in Japan are making a fresh start of it (whatever it might be). Jme? Looks and works just as badly as last month. The biggest complaint for me is the strict adherence to Japanese broadcast scheduling - TvJapan made at least some concessions to the various U.S. time zones. Per Fujino Shimpei, Cosmomedia executive ,speaking to the Rafu Shimpo news site, "The schedule of programs will be a slightly different,” Fujino explained. “NHK World Premium is distributed live from Tokyo, so it can be difficult for people in the U.S. to watch live in a timely manner, taking into account the time differences between Japan and North America, as well as between Eastern and Western Japan and Hawaii.” So basically, shikata ga nai - you the viewer are s.o.l. as far as a convenient viewing experience. Hopefully Cosmomedia takes at least some heed of the current widely negative reviews of the app and make needed improvements, but I'm not hopeful.