Tokyo’s five major private television networks are preparing to trial simultaneous online streaming of their evening news programs from next year, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
The decision comes as private networks, which have been cautious about starting online streaming services, are waking up to the reality that their online presence will only continue to fade if they do not keep up with the growing trend of video streaming on smartphones.
The networks — Nippon Television Network Corp., TV Asahi Corp., Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc., TV Tokyo Corp. and Fuji Television Network Inc. — will simultaneously stream their weekday evening news programs for five days in January next year on TVer, a portal site that provides free streaming of shows immediately after they have aired on television, according to the sources.
Major networks have been slow to commence online streaming due to concerns about cost, copyright clearance for simultaneous streaming by commercial broadcasters and relations with group stations, despite the absence of legal restrictions on their doing so.
News programs were chosen for the trial as copyright clearance is less complicated compared with a drama series and other types of programs.
Although the broadcasting area of the major networks only covers Tokyo and the six other prefectures in the Kanto region, the programs streamed online are expected to be available for viewing across the country, which could cause local stations’ audience ratings to decline.
However, the decline in television viewership among young people has prompted the networks to catch up with public broadcaster NHK, which will begin simultaneous online streaming of its terrestrial broadcast channels by March 2020.
Based on the results of the trial, the private networks will also look at simultaneously streaming some of their television programs from next spring, the sources said.
Major networks are still discussing whether to run the same commercials or substitute them with different ones. They plan to conduct the trial as a demonstration project of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
A revision of the Broadcast Law earlier this year made it possible for NHK to simultaneously stream its television programs online.