Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trailers and news reports of dramas and movies and the overboard protectionism from Japanese media companies

As you may have noticed recently, I started sharing links to trailers and news reports of upcoming dramas and movies through the blog's official Facebook and Twitter pages. Instead of embedding them on the blog which may pose copyright issues or face the problem of videos being blocked or taken down after some time, this seems to be a better way of directing those who are interested in such content to go to the sites of those which host the videos, often the TV stations themselves. As such, do "like" the Facebook page or follow the blog on Twitter to get such updates promptly.

Just in case you wonder why I've only shared videos from certain dramas, that's not because I want to promote them over the rest. Some TV stations actually impose geographical restrictions on who gets to watch their video content on their websites or YouTube pages. That effectively means that if your IP address is not in Japan, you can't even watch it. In particular, FujiTV, NTV and WOWOW are doing this so that's why you will notice that I've not been able to share trailers of their dramas unless someone uploads the videos on external sites like YouTube or Dailymotion. I will continue searching for the trailers but there is a high chance that I might not be able to find any so I seek your understanding in this regard.

Due to this restriction issue, I get really annoyed at how the Japanese media companies are using protectionism in the wrong way and excessively. Much as I understand copyright concerns they may have over content being readily available on the Internet, in this time and age, if you don't use the Internet to your benefit, that's going to hurt you in the long run. In this regard, some companies like TBS is actively using all sorts of SNS portals such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LINE to promote their TV programmes. It's better to let people know what you offer rather than keep it all to yourself. Who knows if someone might be a content purchaser overseas and your programmes may just be sold to an overseas audience because of this awareness campaign? Not having the content available to the world doesn't mean that you can protect your content from abuse. Moreover, I am talking about the promotional trailers which should be seen by as many people as possible. I can understand about not uploading the entire programme online for people to watch but these are trailers meant for promotional use we are talking about. There is no meaning to it if people can't watch them in the first place. It frustrates me a lot because here I am, trying to boost awareness and share news but the official mediums try to stop you with such measures. It's as if telling me that they don't need people outside of Japan to know about what they offer.

In this regard, the South Korean media seems to be better at manipulating the Internet to boost awareness and influence of their pop culture. I don't necessarily think that they churn out better content than the Japanese counterparts in all areas or that K-culture is more influential than J-culture but the South Koreans are really good at using the Internet to garner fans and expand their reach outside the domestic market. Not only do they have promotional music videos available online by respective agencies, TV stations do not shy away from providing whole programmes on their YouTube pages e.g. KBS and even provide subs for overseas audiences. You don't hear about Japanese music videos having millions of views on YouTube because they usually get taken down very quickly if someone uploads them. This is really ridiculous considering that PVs are meant to be seen by fans and yet people outside of Japan can't see them. How about those within Japan? Do they all have access to music programmes or channels like MTV to watch these? So who ultimately gets to watch such PVs? Or can they only watch snippets of them on variety/news shows? If you don't want people to see those videos, don't make them in the first place. If you don't want people to know about your content, don't even promote them. On the other hand, movie companies are more open to sharing their content and I guess that has to do with the nature of their business where films can go overseas more easily compared to TV programmes.

Much as I understand that the Japanese market is actually big enough to sustain the domestic artistes to a certain extent, there is a need to branch out in case the market shrinks or gets hit by some uncontrollable factors. Don't they want their works to be seen and appreciated outside of Japan? I simply cannot fathom the rationale of keeping everything to yourself especially the TV stations which use the geographical blocking method to stop people from watching your videos. Seriously, for FujiTV in particular, you are already at the bottom of the ratings race and yet you still don't want to do something about expanding your reach and marketability of your works. You can only wonder what goes on in the minds of the people who decide to impose such restrictions.

If you have any thoughts on this issue, please feel free to share them via the comments section.


Anonymous said...

cool japan is a BIG failure

Anonymous said...

I have often pondered this issue in the past. Why are so few japanese dramas and films released (on dvd) with good, official english subtitles ? It honestly feels like they don't care about overseas fans at all. Trying to watch PV's is such a trial, you just end up throwing your hands up in despair.

Chiaki said...

I think it has to do with the fact that the DVDs are intended for the domestic market so there seems to be no need to introduce features for overseas fans such as English subtitles or DVD versions which can be played on overseas players which uses different region codes. Of course, region coding doesn't matter so much these days if you are using your computers or laptops to watch the region 2 DVDs from Japan.

I do notice that there seems to be some effort made in introducing subtitles of concert and drama DVDs based on what I bought from Japan but sad to say, the subtitles are predominantly in Japanese. Whatever few titles that come in both English and Japanese subtitles tend to be filled with errors on the English side of things so it's as good as a half-hearted effort.

Coupled with the fact that Japanese drama and film DVDs are notoriously expensive, fans can only buy those which they really like for the sake of keeping it as a collector's item under the premise that they either have watched it or like the cast/artiste/singer well enough to buy it for their sake. The risk of buying something for that expensive price and yet end up not liking it is too high so people can't get too experimental with buying DVDs. Maybe that's also why the rental market in Japan is flourishing since you don't have to shell out that sum of money just to watch something where rental allows you to watch many more titles for the same amount of money. Unfortunately, this is not an option for overseas fans.

PVs of Japanese music artistes are almost non-existent on the Net. Some artistes may have their official YouTube channels but that number is way below what you see from their Korean counterparts. In the case of Johnny's groups especially, PVs usually survive no more than a few days on the Net before being blocked or deleted. It's almost like watching the PVs online is such a scandalous and indecent deed despite the fact that they exist for the sake of promoting the artiste's music. Likewise for the drama trailers, if the TV stations want to block access, then don't upload them in the first place and just show them on TV.