Japan: Biz dominated by broadcasters

Mip Territory Reports

TOKYO — Despite inroads made by cable and satellite, the Japanese television biz remains dominated by the five commercial networks and pubcaster NHK.

Their reach (save for the smallest of the nets, TV Tokyo) is nationwide, and their share of viewers and ad revenue far exceeds that of the cable and satellite sectors.

According to the Dentsu ad agency, ad sales for terrestrial TV dropped 0.09% in 2007, while satellite and cable broadcasters racked up a 10.8% sales gain. Nevertheless, terrestrial TV accounted for 28.5% of all media ad spend, with $19.589 billion. By comparison, the spend for satellite media was only $533 million (0.8% share) and for Internet ads was $5.882 billion (8.6%).

Though terrestrial TV is still the king of the Japanese broadcasting hill, the balance of power is shifting, as more Japanese households sign up for satellite and cable channels, often in conjunction with broadband Internet service. As of March 2007, 26.4 million of Japan’s 47 million TV households were receiving broadband, and 18.7 million households could receive cable broadcasts. By the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the number of households with cable subscriptions is expected to reach 20 million.

Looking ahead, nearly 100% of households are expected to have access to digital terrestrial broadcasts by July 2011, when Japanese terrestrial and broadcast satellite broadcasters pull the plug on analog broadcasts.

According to the National Assn. of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan, the sales outlook for the nets in 2008 is mixed. Revenues for all terrestrial nets and their affiliates are forecast to slip 0.4% — the second straight year-on drop. One bright spot: Sales for the broadcast satellite digital channels operated by the five nets are expected to grow 8.3% compared with the previous year, to $301 million.

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