International Program Sales

Tom Bergeron and producer Vin Di Bona celebrate the 400th episode of AFHV
Tom Bergeron and producer Vin Di Bona
celebrate the 400th episode of AFHV

With a massive program library compiled from over 55 years on the air and a constant string of critically and popularly acclaimed titles, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. continues to be a wellspring of hit programming and cutting-edge formats to overseas markets.

In partnership with TBS’s exclusive format and variety program agent, Bellon Entertainment, TBS has brought to the world the most successful Japanese format to date, America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFHV), which still airs on the ABC Network in the U.S. after 22 years, and it has been distributed to more than 100 countries. The show not only began an explosion of home video programs, it became the longest-running entertainment program in the 60-year history of the ABC network. In addition, the producer of AFHV received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007, and the program became a permanent part of the entertainment collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2009.

Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak visits the set of SASUKE Malaysia
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Najib Razak visits
the set of SASUKE Malaysia

More recently, Takeshi’s Castle-based MXC™ Most Extreme Elimination Challenge and SASUKE-based Ninja Warrior® have become smash hits which are both aired in more than 150 countries around the world.

Ninja Warrior® and its American counterpart, American Ninja Warrior, have steadily grown more popular, becoming top programs on G4, a Comcast cable channel in North America. The finale episodes of the latest ten-episode series, American Ninja Warrior 3, are to be aired on prime time on U.S. terrestrial NBC in August 2011—the very first time a Japanese entertainment program will air in U.S. terrestrial prime time.


TBS has continued to forge new roads into licensing of variety programming by taking advantage of new and secondary markets overseas. Takeshi’s Castle-based MXC™ followed its hit run on Spike TV in the U.S. by becoming a hit on DVD and was further complemented by sales on iTunes, a first for a Japanese game show. Additionally, for the first time TBS licensed the mobile phone game rights for one of its programs: the rights for Takeshi’s Castle to Gameloft in Spain.

New formats from TBS targeting the children’s and teens’ markets have met with significant success around the world with Get 100 licensed to the BBC in the UK and Brain Survivor-based BrainSurge licensed to Nickelodeon in the U.S. Notably, BrainSurge has become the most-watched program on all TV by kids 2–11 in its time period, enabling the channel to take a 20% plus rating in almost all kids’ viewer targets. The latest series, Family BrainSurge, kicked off in July 2011 and is soon to be followed by Discovery Channel’s Latin American version, which is now in production in Argentina.

Anime is another genre that is increasingly licensed to new media platforms and continues to be a major component of TBS’s overseas sales. After a runaway domestic success, the first season of the popular series K-ON!! has been licensed to over 50 territories around the world with the second season following hot on its heels. Further, TBS continues to expand business to new media and thwart pirates by contracting with its licensees to air new series like Dream Eater Merry and Mayo Chiki! within a week of their domestic broadcasts.

Feature films are the other genre of programming that has been a major and growing portion of overseas license revenue. SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO has been especially popular with international buyers. Other releases for 2011, like Tomorrow’s Joe, Runway✩Beat, Drucker in the Dugout: A Japanese Baseball Girl Meets Peter Drucker, KOCHIKAME—THE MOVIE and K-ON!! MOVIE, continue to be popular in Asian territories while making ever more inroads into Western markets.

TBS staircase advertisement at Cannes International TV Market
TBS staircase advertisement
at Cannes International TV Market

Finally, drama series, the mainstay of the TBS program lineup, have remained a strong performer throughout the year, continuing the TBS tradition of high-quality stories for a global audience. In particular, the second season of JIN, a story of epic scale and grandeur in another time, became the highest-rated drama series out of all dramas produced by all Japanese broadcasters since 2009, scoring 26.1% for the final episode and boasting a series average of 21.3%. Distributed in over 80 countries, JIN has won more than 30 awards at home and abroad thus far, including the MIPCOM Buyers Award in Cannes and the Grand Prix at the Tokyo Drama Awards in 2010.

In light of Japanese entertainment content gaining recognition and popularity abroad and the Japanese government strengthening its efforts to export Japanese culture, entertainment, and intellectual property through “Cool Japan” branding and initiatives, TBS strives to further contribute and expand its global presence by strengthening revenue streams and its international profile.