May 04, 2024

Jme TV (a few suggestions)

NHK Cosmomedia has created a classic Hobson's Choice. Just as Henry Ford famously offered the Model T in any color as long as it was black, now you can legally livestream any live-action Japanese content as long as it's on Jme TV. (Crunchyroll simulcasts most of its new anime content every season.)

Dish briefly picked up Family Gekijyo after getting dumped by TV Japan. DirecTV offers Nippon TV as a replacement for TV Japan. NHK World Japan aside, there's no Japanese programming left on Xfinity or Dish. By contrast, Korean live-action content is available everywhere and on all platforms. Even Tubi has two dedicated Kdrama channels.

Live-action television comprises a paltry 5.5 percent of Japan's media exports. Fuyuhiko Takahori points to the cour system, with small budgets and short run-times holding down audience size, which limits budgets and run-times. But as anime has proven, I don't think the cour system is the impediment Takahori makes it out to be.

The cour-length season became standard practice in North America back during the premium cable days, long before streaming took off.

There's nothing wrong with the episode counts of the typical Jdrama series. The push, rather, should be to increase audience size. NHK Cosmomedia's overpriced and poorly designed streaming service is the wrong approach. If NHK cannot reduce costs to the consumer, it should let somebody else handle the business.

Another part of the problem may be a sibling rivalry. NHK World Japan is a worldwide service with an international audience, available for free online and streaming, on cable and satellite, and OTA in nineteen North American markets.

NHK World Japan is on YouTube and even shows up in screensaver ads on my Roku. Compared to NHK World Japan, NHK World Premium (née TV Japan) has taken over a vanishing niche. Jme TV is not a long-term solution. Granted, if you're looking for a one-stop shop, now you don't have a choice, unless one of the choices is "None of the above."

Here are a few possible solutions. I was also going to suggest creating a VOD sumo channel but Jme has already done that. So kudos for that. However, I would mirror the sumo channel on NHK World Japan as well.

  • Move Jme Select to the free NHK World Japan website and use the same templates for the program guide. Jme Select has the same format as NHK World Japan, meaning a six-hour block of programs repeated four times a day. NHK World Japan should also add the Asadora with subtitles. It'd be a great PR move.

    Like NHK World Japan, the Select programming would be primarily news and infotainment. The premium drama and variety content would remain behind the paywall. Even NHK World Japan content could be reused by removing the dubbing and ADR.
  • Do a deal with Rakuten Viki similar to the deal Viki has with Kocowa. Kocowa is South Korea's far more affordable equivalent of NHK World Premium. The $10/month Viki Pass Plus plan gives subscribers access to Kocowa and the entire Viki catalog, that includes VOD content from across Asia, including Japan.

    A hypothetical Viki Pass Japan Plus plan would provide subscribers with access to Viki's VOD catalog and all of the non-localized material that previously ended up on TV Japan. One big advantage here is that Rakuten Viki is a well-designed and well-known (in its niche) website with all of the streaming apps in place.
  • Okay, instead of doing a deal with Rakuten Viki, at least copy their website and app designs. Viki really does have one of the best streaming UIs in the business. And then only stream the newscasts live (simply copy the news section from NHK World Premium). Make the rest of the programming available as VOD.
  • If nothing else, the core VOD streaming service should cost considerably less. HIDIVE and Viki charge $6/month. Kocowa and Netflix start at $7/month. You can bundle Viki and Kocowa for $10/month. Crunchyroll's basic tier is $8/month. HIDIVE, Viki, and Crunchyroll offer discounted annual subscriptions.
And for a non-hypothetical option, simply go elsewhere. If you're willing to forgo the latest and greatest from prime time Japanese TV and do a bit of spelunking through sites like Viki, Tubi, and Netflix, there is plenty of (legal) live-action content available at far more affordable prices and even for free.

Related posts

Jme TV
NHK World Japan
Live-action Japanese TV
Jme TV (grumpy old man edition)

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