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Japan TV networks to begin online streaming to entice younger viewers

A revision of the broadcast law, which passed the Diet on May 29, 2019, has made it possible for NHK to simultaneously stream its television programs online. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Five major Tokyo-based private television networks are planning to provide simultaneous online streaming as early as this fall to counter declining television viewing among younger audiences, network sources said Saturday.

    The networks -- Nippon Television Network Corp., TV Asahi Corp., Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc., Fuji Television Network Inc. and TV Tokyo Corp. -- are already planning simultaneous streaming of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.

    Public broadcaster NHK has said it will begin streaming its programs online from April.

    The firms are aiming to attract a wider viewership through the use of smartphones and other digital devices, though their streaming will be limited to times of day with the highest demand, according to the sources from each network.

    Nippon Television Network is aiming to start services in October and provide streaming from 7 p.m. through 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.

    Some of the networks are also considering streaming late night programs which are targeted at younger viewers, the sources said.

    The networks will not set regional restrictions for their online programs, but the move is expected to provoke a backlash from local affiliated networks.

    Television commercials are to be replaced by targeted advertisements relative to the viewer, while some shows may be unavailable due to difficulty obtaining consent from the cast and therefore substituted with a freeze frame, the sources said.

    The five networks already run a joint online streaming website TVer for viewing some of their already aired shows.

    Last month, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications authorized NHK to begin tentative streaming operations for its television shows on March 1. The broadcaster will provide full services from 6 a.m. on April 1 onward and available for viewers for about 18 hours per day.

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