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Baseball on CATV in Japan?

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Baseball on CATV in Japan?
I just read the "Professional Baseball at a Crossroads" article posted in the "Pro Yakyu News" section. One reason for the continuing explosion of salaries in MLB is the money from CATV contracts from the games carried by regional sports networks (RSNs). Do RSNs exist in Japan? Is there even much baseball on CATV in Japan? If not, this would seem to be a possible way to generate more revenue for and more interest in Japanese baseball. Since some of the major corporations involved in Japanese baseball are media syndicates, like Yomiuri and Chunichi, it would seem tempting for them attempt to establish RSNs and baseball on CATV. Would the business model for this work in Japan? Your thoughts on all of this? Thanx.
Re: Baseball on CATV in Japan?
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 14, 2015 9:10 PM | YBS Fan ]

I'm not completely sure what a Regional Sports Network is. Teams like the Fighters, Carp, and Hawks, away from the media hub that is Tokyo, do have tie ups with local broadcast TV stations to air their HOME games. Unlike in the U.S. where home games are blocked in the local region, Japanese teams hold exclusive rights ONLY to their home games, so that's what they sell to local channels.

As mentioned in the article, the owners did not act on the proposal to have the commissioner having sole negotiating rights for TV. What has happened with television rights is that the Pacific League teams got together and creating an entity called Pacific League Marketing through which TV rights are negotiated with broadcasters -- excluding the Fighters who already had a long term contract with satellite/cable channel GAORA -- while the Central League teams all continue to do it all on their own. The main result has been that the Pacific League has excellent coverage on satellite/cable JSports 1, 2, 3, and what ever their fourth channel is called for a given season.

Where Pacific League Marketing has had its best success is probably with its Internet service for ALL Pacific League games - live and on-demand. Central League teams have all dabbled in live broadcasts, but none have had anything usable cross-platform (I haven't used a Microsoft OS for over 15 years) or on-demand.

The Giants have their own cable channel for all home games: G+. The Swallows, part of the Fuji-Sankei conglomerate, have their home games on their Fuji-One BS (Broadcast Satellite)/cable channel. The BayStars' former owners, TBS (Tokyo Broadcast System), have all of their home games broadcast on TBS-2 cable channel; except when they play the Giants. Then they they put the games on their more popular TBS-1 cable channel. (Both channels seem to mostly have reruns of decades old shows.) The Tigers sell to both GAORA and Sky A+, two other cable channels, splitting live and rerun broadcasts between them - live going to Sky A+ when GAORA is covering the Fighters. Then the Carp and Dragons both take up which ever JSports channel (usually 1 or 2) is not covering a Pacific League game on a given day.

Confusing? Well, one eventually figures out where to find one's favorite team on one of the cable channels. Pretty much every game is covered.

So why doesn't this turn out to be a boon for team revenues? Because cable TV isn't as ubiquitous as it is in the U.S. There are more broadcast channels, which satisfy a majority of the nation. Then there are various broadcast satellite services which offer most of the same channels as CATV, and wiring up a house or living complex with cable is considered too complicated by most. (There being real competition for Internet providers also makes cable no more appealing than any other form of high speed, low-cost Internet we have here in Japan.)

MLB has figured out that revenue sharing really does help everyone. They went kicking and screaming into the setup, like the film industry trying to kill Betamax in the 1980s, sure it was going to kill their revenue stream. In both cases, the respective industries came out stronger.

The proposal to have the Commissioner's Office handle all TV rights was an attempt to push Pro Yakyu into a kind of revenue sharing that would benefit all - and more importantly, the fans. But NPB team owners still cling to their small fiefdoms, and they probably will for many years to come.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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