Motto TV: Japan Gets New Video-On-Demand Service

Hulu Japan, actvila, and other existing video content providers are getting competition soon: a total of seven Japanese companies are currently preparing a video-on-demand service for connected TVs that’s scheduled to launch on April 2 this year.

Dubbed “Motto TV” [JP, PDF], the service is backed by:

  • advertising agency Dentsu
  • Nippon Television Network
  • TV Asahi
  • Tokyo Broadcasting System Television
  • TV Tokyo
  • Fuji Television Network
  • NHK

What’s especially interesting here is that not only five commercial TV networks are taking part, but also NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization.

NHK alone is ready to contribute a total of about 4,000 shows to the 10,500 programs Motto TV will start off with. Users will need to own compatible TV sets that are expected to go on sale from April.

Motto TV programs can be selected via the remote control, for example anime shows, TV series, or comedy programs. Fees vary, depending on the program itself and the station that’s broadcasting it.

Users can browse through the content by selecting different genres, entering key words, or accessing rankings from the menu.

Your TV To Show Commercial Messages In Response To Your Local Weather

Actvila's Logo eTen's Logo

In association with the meteorology company eTen[J], the Tokyo-based broadband TV portal operator Actvila[J] plans to launch weather-linked TV ad showing to the operator’s service subscribers in this coming April.

When signing up with the portal service, you will be requested to enter your zip code, which allows the operator to learn where you live.   The intended advertiser has to prepare some patterns of its TV ad clips for a variety of weather conditions.   In combination of the geographical data you entered and the weather forecast provided by eTen, you can watch the customized pattern of commercial breaks, which are fully in response to the weather condition in your region.

Cosmetic and beverage sectors are highly expected to bring their weather-linked ads, because their sales perfomances are definitely reflected by the weather condition.

Actvila was co-founded by several consumer electronics giants to promote the enhanced use of their digital TV sets, and most of brand new models support the operator’s portal service.   With an ISP subscription and fiber-optic connectivity, you may enjoy watching on-demand movies and time-shift programs for free or by PPV (pay per view).

Actvila contains “TV” in the middle of its name, and that sound means “open the door” in Japanese.

eTen is a subsidiary of Japan’s only satellite TV platform operator, and known for being broadcast its weather TV programming nationwide 24/7.

In similar case (or not similar), in summer we usually watch TV commercial messages brought by Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO) every morning, which advises us to cut power consumption by announcing the estimated number of the region’s electric demand.    Its main purposes are to avoid possible power outage caused by the higher electric demand than the capacities that power plants can cover, and also for CO2 reduction to follow the Kyoto Protocol.   I don’t know whether the commercial message can contribute to the purposes, but I ‘m so impressed with its realtime response.   Every morning in summer days, the company calculates the expected demand based on the latest local weather parameters and scheduled events, and the number is announced in the commercial breaks on some of the TV morning shows.

As you may see, weather-linked advertising is highly connected to the movements of nature, and it may contribute to reducing the people’s waste of consuming more stuffs than they require.

e-tenki's Weather-related Content
(This example of Actvila’s weather-related contents is appeared on screen only in sunny days, when many people suffer from cedar pollen allergy.   The weather persons introduce countermeasures against the symptom.)

Japan’s Blockbuster Video wants to to become Japan’s Netflix

What Blockbuster Video is to the USA, Tsutaya is to Japan. The company is currently operating over 1,300 video rental stores in this country and boasts 27 million members.

Now, Tsutaya finally came to realize their future is the web: The company now wants to transform into this country’s Netflix – at least kind of.

And here is how they want to do it:

Tsutaya actually already began on Friday with offering high definition versions of hit US series, such as Lost or Desperate Housewives on “Tsutaya TV”. Japanese users can download the titles by accessing acTVila [JP], an HD video-on-demand service launched by the Japanese government, Sony, Matsushita, Sharp, Hitachi and Toshiba.

This means potential customers must own Internet-ready TV sets which is a clear drawback in my opinion. Netflix customers can view their streams on the PC or can choose to watch their downloads via the Roku set-top box, which is on sale in the USA since last month and costs 100 USD.

Tsutaya plans to expand their current repertoire to 2,000 titles until the end of this year by collaborating with Paramount, Warner, Walt Disney and NBC Universal.

Feature films will be downloadable for a whopping 735 Yen (7 USD, 4.50 Euros) and will be erased after 2 days.

Given that Japan has one of the fastest Internet infrastructures in the world, Tsutaya’s move is long overdue. KDDI woke up last year already and since then offers a “DVD Burning Service” (more info in English about that here and here).