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Believing in the power of “TV content” to bridge Japan and the world

WAKUWAKU JAPAN Corporation”

PROLOGUE

WAKUWAKU JAPAN is a Japanese general entertainment TV channel for overseas viewers, broadcasting an impressive array of Japanese programs, including anime, drama, sports, music, film, travel and food, all in the local languages. The unique pay channel was launched by SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (SJC), a Japan’s largest multichannel pay TV platform, and in March 2015 Cool Japan Fund decided to invest 4.4 billion Japanese yen (Approx. 35 million US dollar) in this business, which currently reaches approximately 3.2 million households in Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore. We asked the president and members of WAKUWAKU JAPAN Corporation about the reaction from the local TV viewers to the channel and the significance of growing the business.

*Information current as of July 2015


chapter1 Addressing the lack of access to Japanese content
WAKUWAKU JAPAN arose from a desire to introduce Japanese content overseas. The channel was first launched in Indonesia based on research revealing the fact that a large number of Indonesians had a sense of affinity for Japan, while there was virtually no Japanese content on the market. Even though we received numerous positive reaction to the channel beyond our expectations upon launching the epoch-making TV channel, it is inevitable for us to stay on top of local viewers’ preferences on a continuous basis.
Makino
When I became involved in the channel’s launch, many Indonesians were saying that they wanted to view Japanese content but had no access to it. Hence, I felt there was huge business opportunities for broadcasting a pay TV channel specialized in Japanese TV programs.
Kawanishi
Negotiation with local multichannel pay TV platforms*1, which are mediators for broadcasting WAKUWAKU JAPAN overseas, is a major challenge. However, in the case of Indonesia, we first succeeded in broadcasting WAKUWAKU JAPAN through the largest platform of the country, Indovision, which raised our profile in Indonesia’s pay TV industry, and we began to receive many requests from other platforms’ viewers who wanted access to WAKUWAKU. Supported by such increasing needs, we were quickly able to expand WAKUWAKU JAPAN to seven platforms in less than a year.
Kunori
I think our extensive promotion played an important part as well. We rolled out a variety of promotional events, including a major TV commercial campaign via terrestrial TV networks, music events, an Ultraman Show, an AKB 48 and JKT 48*2 joint concert, a friendly match between Gamba Osaka and a local Indonesian soccer team, and the opening of WAKUWAKU Café. Regarding WAKUWAKU Café, it had more than 120,000 visitors.
Makino
In both promoting and scheduling programs, we are still hardly able to predict the reaction of local viewers. The reaction from the viewers can be unexpected for us
Kunori
For example, we used to air horror movies on Sunday nights based on the knowledge that horror stories were popular in Indonesia. However, we received information that according to religious beliefs in certain areas, ghosts were supposed to appear on Friday nights. Thanks to this, our current Friday night program J HORROR is a very popular spot. In addition, this year We had an event featuring Japanese haunted houses, and it was a great success!
Makino
We are always changing our TV content lineup along with the viewers’ preferences. Initially, live broadcasts of J. League matches were thought to be of little interest to local viewers, but now it is one of popular programs in WAKUWAKU JAPAN. Furthermore, there was another surprise that programs related to Japanese culture, travel and food obtained higher ratings than anime and drama.
Kawanishi
With interest in Japan rising ahead of 2020’s Tokyo Olympic, more people will decide which places to visit based on what they see on TV. One of our missions is to introduce local areas of Japan and we have been broadcasting an original program called SHIKI-ORIORI (meaning “from season to season” in Japanese) that features various parts of Japan. For example, although the majority of Indonesian tourists visit Japan during the cherry blossom season (starting from middle of March and continuing till middle of April), I hope our programs will inspire them to come to Japan not only during spring but also fall in order to see the autumnal foliage in various parts of Japan.

*1 Pay-TV broadcast operator
*2 Indonesian female idol group based in Jakarta. A sister group of AKB48, a Japanese idol girl group named after the Akihabara (Akiba for short) area of Tokyo.

The first store in London (in-store)

the joint concert by AKB48 and JKT48
(C)AKS/(C)JKT48 Project

The first store in London (appearance)

      a queue in front of
      “WAKUWAKU Café”
(C)WAKUWAKU JAPAN

The store in Sydney

a friendship match between
Gamba Osaka and
local Indonesian soccer team
(C)WAKUWAKU JAPAN


chapter2 A first step towards overcoming longstanding issues within the industry
WAKUWAKU JAPAN broadcasts popular dramas only a month after they are shown in Japan. It is significant to keep the content as fresh as possible in order to share a real-time picture of Japan. However, negotiations with content holders of Japanese TV programs and the lead time required for subtitling/dubbing make it difficult to accomplish. In this sense, the project challenges the Japanese content industry to overcome some longstanding issues.
Kunori
When it comes to Korea, new dramas and music from the country can be enjoyed almost simultaneously in other Asian countries, because there is an appropriate rights management system to facilitate immediate overseas broadcasting of up-to-date Korean TV programs. Meanwhile, due to the complicated rights management system, Japanese content merely trickles out, and it tends to be several years old. That’s why we created the program slot called “Drama NEO”, broadcasting latest dramas.
Makino
There is also a danger of piracy if we take too much time bringing the content overseas. To compete squarely with other channels, it is vital that we export new content as soon as possible.
Kawanishi
NHK and commercial channels are all very cooperative. The investment from Cool Japan Fund has also been a tailwind, and we are starting to see collaborative movement all over Japan. We still have much issues to do, such as negotiations on overseas OTT rights*3, but we hope to overcome these challenges.
Kunori
A deeper understanding of the business has led to increased interest from sponsors. According to a local survey by JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), the majority of respondents said that TV was the inspiration for their visit. Moreover, in their answers to the question of what travel program they watched most often, WAKUWAKU JAPAN’s score was the same or higher than popular programs on the terrestrial TV networks. We have reached the point where we are being contacted by local governments and tourism organizations in Japan that wish to collaborate with us on PR projects directly attracting foreign tourists to Japan including not only major cities but also local small cities .
Makino
Last year, to coincide with the airing of the Ultraman series, we sold Ultraman T-shirts via the e-commerce site run by Tokyo Otaku Mode, which is another recipient of Cool Japan Fund’s investment, and they sold out. This happened despite their relatively high price. We are planning other merchandise businesses in fashion and music as well.
Kawanichi
Programs produced in collaboration with Japanese travel agencies, theme parks, hotels and transport companies are proving very popular, and products introduced in these programs seem to be selling well. One thing we need to do is to attract local companies in broadcasting countries of WAKUWAKU JAPAN (as of 2015/7, Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore) as sponsors. Combining the sponsorship with merchandise sales, our project would produce even a greater impact.

*3 Over The Top: video and audio services provided via the Internet such as on-demand video and multi-device broadcasting across TVs, tablets and smartphones

Ippudo’s popular Akamaru Shinaji

Indonesian reporters visiting Japan on the program,
WAKUWAKU REPORTER2015
(C)WAKUWAKU JAPAN

People enjoying ramen outside Japan

chapter3 Driven by the social importance of the business
The company’s goal is to expand WAKUWAKU JAPAN broadcasting countries to 22 countries by fiscal year 2020 and established a presence in Singapore, its third broadcasting country, in July this year. Research shows that Western and Korean content are dominant in Singapore and that interest in Japanese content is not as high as it is in Indonesia. The team points out, however, that this is not due to the weak appeal of Japanese content but because of its limited exposure and low recognition. They believe there is considerable potential for the business if they can cultivate demand. We finished the interview by asking them what drives them forward.
Makino
I think the project can play an important social role in helping to build friendship between Japan and the world. During the Korean boom in Japan, Japan-Korea relation was undoubtedly good. That is the power of content.
Kunori
I grew up watching TV, so I want to show the world how Japan creates entertaining TV programs and help nurture affinity with our country. When you are having fun or feeling excited, you become more open to the information you receive. Also, as a member of sales team, I always pay attention to programming,while I attempt to make our programmers be involved in sales at all times as well, creating synergy with the programming team. Ultimately we have an aspiration for growing the list of clients who are happy to have worked with us.
Kawanishi
I have strong desite to introduce Japanese programs to as many foreign people as possible, and return the profits to the Japanese content industry to create even better programs, producing a virtuous circle. I also hope to help promote Cool Japan and Visit Japan initiatives. I know we have a long way to go, but I am very excited about being able to contribute to Japan.
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PROFILE


President & CEO

Masafumi Kawanishi

Masafumi Kawanishi

Kawanishi joined Itochu Corporation in 1980. He then joined Japan Digital Broadcast Service Co., Ltd. (currently SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation) and served as Head of Sales Promotion, Vice President of Sales and Executive Officer to become Managing Executive Officer in 2005. He has been President & CEO of WAKUWAKU JAPAN since May 2015.

Head of Planning and Broadcasting
Operations Division
/ Head of Programming and Production Team

Makoto Makino

Makoto Makino

Makino joined the TV production company TVC in 1994. After leaving to work as a freelance director, he joined SKY Perfect Communications Inc. (currently SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation) in 2008. He headed the Asia Business Team within the Business Development Division, Pay TV Business Group and served as Deputy Manager of Overseas Business and other roles before taking on his current position in July 2015.

Director,Deputy Manager, Marketing Division
/ Head of Advertising and Sales Team

Masahiro Kunori

Masahiro Kunori

Kunori joined Dentsu Inc. in 1995 and served as a sales representative for TV programs in the TV Division before moving to the Sales Division, where he worked with a pharmaceutical group and others clients. After leaving the company in June 2014, he joined a consulting firm before becoming a member of the Overseas Business Division of SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation in March 2015. He was assigned to his current role in July 2015.

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