TBS Today

SASUKE Growing Into a Global Entertainment Force

American Ninja Warrior

TBS’s sports entertainment TV series and format SASUKE has become an unprecedented global hit for a live-action Japanese program. After first airing in 1997, SASUKE this year marked its 31st episode. Also known globally as Ninja Warrior, the program has been aired in 165 nations and territories.

SASUKE features 100 competitors in each episode racing against the clock to conquer a challenging four-stage obstacle course. Out of the total 3,100 competitors, only four have completed all stages, earning SASUKE a reputation as the “world’s toughest obstacle course.”

Overseas versions of SASUKE often refer to the course as “Mt. Midoriyama” a nod to TBS’s Midoriyama studio where the show is recorded. “Conquer Mt. Midoriyama” has become a catchcry among competitors and fans around the world. As recognition and popularity grow, Mt. Midoriyama has become a “sacred place” for many fans around the globe.

Ninja Warrior Sverige
American Ninja Warrior
SASUKE Vietnam
Saudi Arabian Prince’s visit

SASUKE has taken the United States by storm. After starting on the G4 cable network (now called Esquire Network) in 2006, the show’s U.S.-edited version steadily gained popularity. In 2009, SASUKE history was made with the launch of American Ninja Warrior, the first locally produced version abroad. In 2011, American Ninja Warrior shifted to prime-time on U.S. terrestrial television network NBC and the following year, the show was regarded as one of NBC’s most successful new series.

In 2014, it scaled new heights by winning its highly competitive time slot for 14 consecutive weeks, despite vying with popular shows such as a new season of 24. American Ninja Warrior brought in more than 100 million U.S. viewers over the season, making it one of the biggest hit series of summer 2014. The seventh season, which is being broadcast in 2015, has expanded to include qualifying rounds in six U.S. cities, and the final round was filmed in Las Vegas for the fourth straight year.

In 2011, Malaysia’s government supported the launch of SASUKE Malaysia as part of an anti-obesity campaign. The following year, the Singapore version SASUKE Singapore started, Turkey produced the first version for the Middle East -- Ninja Warrior Türkiye -- in 2013, and Sweden in 2015 became the first European nation to make its own version, Ninja Warrior Sverige. The British version, Ninja Warrior UK, hit the prime-time jackpot for UK’s ITV, and SASUKE Vietnam went on air in June.

As of July 2015, nine local versions of SASUKE have been made, including editions in Denmark and China.

This year, we set the stage for further expansion of the SASUKE brand. In May, a Saudi Arabian Prince visited Japan and signed a memorandum to produce a version of SASUKE to be broadcast in 17 Arabic-speaking nations. Furthermore, we have entered an agreement with Dentsu Inc. under which Dentsu will manage format sales and brand partnerships for SASUKE in Europe.

SASUKE’s recognition and popularity are rapidly growing, and we are sure the program will continue to impact the entertainment world around the globe.

Teaming with Asia to Grow Around the World

As a proactive member of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union since 1987, TBS is committed to forming partnerships with key media companies throughout Asia.

Find the WASABI!

Find the WASABI!

In 2014, TBS and Media Prima, Malaysia’s largest media conglomerate, announced the joint production of an 11-episode reality game travelogue called Find the WASABI!, in which young Asian celebrities set out to uncover unique quirks of Japanese culture. Joined by broadcast partners from Singapore and Thailand, this four-country project was the second season of an original series developed by Japan and Singapore in 2013 and was presented at the Japanese formats showcase at MIPTV, an international TV and digital content market held in France in April 2014. In season 2, a popular male celebrity was chosen from each country to compete in sometimes tough and sometimes funny battles to complete the challenging mission handed down by their exquisitely beautiful commander, Japanese actress Norika Fujiwara.

The Partner, SASUKE

Opening Ceremony of SASUKE Vietnam

In 2012, TBS established a news partnership agreement with Vietnam Television (VTV), the state broadcaster in the rapidly growing Southeast Asian nation. In autumn of the following year, TBS and VTV jointly produced The Partner, a telemovie that commemorated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and Vietnam. Our cooperative relationship is symbolized by VTV reserving a prime-time slot for popular TBS dramas on weekdays for six months. Additional projects are under way to deepen TBS’s relationship with Vietnam. VTV bought the format rights to our sports entertainment program SASUKE, and the localized version started airing in Vietnam in June 2015.

Channel JAPAN

Channel JAPAN
Channel JAPAN

In April 2012, TBS and Nikkei Inc., Japan’s largest financial news group, teamed up to launch Channel JAPAN (www.ch-japan.com), an English-language program presenting the latest information on Japanese business, technology, popular culture and trends. Channel JAPAN is broadcast weekly across Asia on CNBC Asia’s satellite and cable network, and on terrestrial channels in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. It is also streamed online on USTREAM.

TBS’s partnerships with broadcasters in Asia started over 30 years ago, when we and China Central Television (CCTV) co-produced live coverage of the Beijing Marathon and a feature-length documentary titled The Great Wall. In late 2000, we worked with Beijing Television to make a program documenting college students from Japan, China and South Korea who attempted to set a new Guinness World Record for toppling the longest domino line. When Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup, TBS partnered with Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to create Friends, the first drama ever jointly produced by Japanese and Korean television companies. TBS will further strengthen relationships with Asian media companies to share our content with viewers in the region.

International Program Sales

For half a century now, TBS programs, movies and formats have been enthusiastically welcomed overseas, with tens of thousands of episodes from more than 1,000 titles distributed to countries and territories across five continents. Transactions with such major broadcasters as ABC and NBC in the U.S., Britain’s BBC, France’s TF1 and China’s CCTV have established TBS as a high-quality content provider with a global presence.


America’s Funniest Home Video (AFV)

TBS began program format sales in the 1980s in cooperation with U.S. agent Bellon Entertainment, and has become a major international player in this field. More than 160 nations and territories have seen TBS programs and formats, which have in turn spurred the creation of 200 localized versions and over 5,000 episodes produced overseas.

Many of these shows have become prime-time hits widely enjoyed by the public. America’s Funniest Home Videos, for example, the U.S. version of a segment from the TBS variety entertainment program Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan, has been shown on the ABC network for 26 years, making it the longest-running entertainment program in ABC’s history. The quiz show Wakuwaku Animal Land format has been sold to over 30 countries, and Happy Family Plan to over 60.
The reality game show Takeshi’s Castle and its format have been aired in 159 countries and territories, and in 2014, Takeshi’s Castle Thailand was launched, and it has steadily been gaining popularity. TBS has also scored an unprecedented global hit with its SASUKE/Ninja Warrior format (see Page 2).



TBS is an active player in the domestic and international anime markets, producing about 10 animation series each year. The runaway hit K-On! has been a particular success, sold to over 50 nations and territories. Since 2010, TBS has also committed significant resources to presales and streaming anime programs. All TBS anime programs can be streamed at the same time they are broadcast in Japan, or within a few hours or days, to viewers overseas. This has increased sales revenue and helped to fight piracy.



TBS also produces more than 10 feature films a year and actively promotes them in overseas markets, including opening an exhibition booth at the Cannes Film Festival. In recent years, TBS has piqued the attention of international buyers with Departures, which won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2009 Academy Awards, and the 2010 hit SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO. Our films have been distributed in over 60 countries and territories. Lupin the Third, a live-action film based on the popular manga comic, has been sold in more than 30 nations and territories.


The Emperor’s Cook (Hong Kong)

TBS’s drama series have been successful overseas for many years. The drama JIN has been broadcast in 80 nations and territories, while NAOKI HANZAWA, a drama about a maverick banker, logged a sensational average rating of 42.2% for its final episode, the highest figure for a Japanese drama this century. The main character’s catchphrase “Baigaeshi da!” (double the payback) even became a buzzword in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and we received offers to remake the show from producers in a number of countries, including the United States. All of TBS’s latest serial dramas, including The Emperor’s Cook, are broadcast in Hong Kong and are increasingly being aired in Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Entertainment programs from Japan continue to gain recognition and popularity around the world. The Japanese government is committed to promoting cultural exports, such as food, fashion, animation, and media content. In this positive environment, TBS is dedicated to increasing the development of overseas versions of our program formats, boosting revenue from program sales, and further enhancing our international reputation as a provider of high-quality content.


TBS’s series of World Heritage documentary programs was one of the first in the world to be filmed in high-definition, and was quick to make the leap to shooting and editing in 3D and 4K. The World Heritage runs to more than 800 episodes and has been sold to multiple countries, including the United States, China and Russia.

Capturing the Thrills of World-Class Sporting Events

IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Usain Bolt

When it comes to athletics, TBS delivers unparalleled coverage. Watching the biennial IAAF World Championships has become a tradition for sports fans in Japan. In addition to showing athletes competing on the global stage, we also have fostered strong relationships with these athletes over many years and infuse our coverage with exclusive footage and interviews with them. TBS was host broadcaster at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, and about 800 of our staffers were involved in ensuring that top-level coverage of this event was beamed around the world. These unstinting efforts earned TBS the IOC Grand Prize for the world’s best sports images, an accolade that recognized our superlative video production technologies. During the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, TBS featured exhilarating contests between the world’s finest athletes live in golden time for nine consecutive days.

FIVB Volleyball World Championships and Olympic Qualification Tournament

Women’s National Volleyball Team

TBS broadcasts some of the world’s biggest volleyball tournaments, including the FIVB Volleyball World Championships held every four years to determine the best of the best, and the Olympic Qualification Tournament. TBS broadcast every game played by Japan’s national women’s team as it chased a medal at the 2014 FIVB Championships in Italy, following its bronze medals at the 2010 FIVB Championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

Soccer Fever! National Teams and J.League

Men’s National Soccer Team

Since the J.League was launched, TBS has broadcast more league matches than any other major commercial TV station in Japan. Using top-level camerawork, TBS provides full live coverage of games played by the men’s and women’s national teams. Our extensive coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil included live broadcasts of matches, a tournament roundup and highlight programs, ensuring that soccer fans could watch every captivating moment that occurred in the stadiums.

World Baseball Classic (WBC)

The World Baseball Classic is the premier international tournament that determines the world’s best team. TBS has broadcast live games from all three editions of the WBC in 2006, 2009 and 2013. In November 2015, we will provide coverage of the inaugural WBSC Premier 12, an event featuring the top 12 national teams in the world.

Historic Moments in Boxing

TBS’s boxing coverage in recent years has focused on the meteoric rise of Kazuto Ioka, a champion in three weight classes. Title bouts featuring Ioka have become a staple of our New Year’s Eve lineup, and one of his fights recorded an audience rating of over 20%. TBS will continue to follow Ioka’s quest to win a title unification match, and also cover an upcoming generation of boxers seeking glory in the ring.

World’s Prestigious Golf Tournaments

Hideki Matsuyama

Every year, TBS broadcasts two of golf’s majors from the United States, the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship. We have shown the Masters for more than 40 years now. Many Japanese golf fans immediately associate TBS with this prestigious tournament. Our lineup for women’s golf likewise includes two of the major tournaments, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the LPGA Championship. TBS also broadcasts high-profile tournaments held in Japan, including the Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament, the Panasonic Open, the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters and the CASIO World Open.

20 Years of World Heritage Documentaries

4K filming of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy
Royal House of Savoy’s Royal Armory
Receiving the Hoso Bunka Foundation Award
Program shown at the World Heritage Committee in Bonn

TBS’s World Heritage documentary series, aired in 30-minute weekly slots, features UNESCO World Heritage sites celebrating the natural world and cultural treasures created by humankind. Over the past 20 years, The World Heritage has highlighted over 630 sites and captures them in high-definition to convey their outstanding value to humanity. This program combines the highest levels of visual quality with compelling narration and inspiring music. The production approach is simple: showcase all that is irreplaceable on our planet.

In April 2015, we started showing episodes of The World Heritage 4K Premium Edition, previously aired on the BS-TBS satellite channel, on our terrestrial channel. The quality of the original 4K footage ensures superior images to regular high-definition broadcasts, even though the broadcasts are down-converted to high-definition. This was the first program shot and edited entirely in 4K to be aired on a terrestrial channel. These 4K editions are broadcast once a season and have included an episode depicting the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in Turin, Italy.

Since the beginning of the program 20 years ago in 1996, The World Heritage has been praised for continually adopting cutting-edge technology, as with its use of 4K. The series has received many awards, most recently from the Hoso Bunka Foundation in 2015 and the Association of All Japan TV Program Production Companies in 2014.

A video commemorating 20 years of The World Heritage was warmly applauded by delegates from 190 nations at a session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, in June. This was the first time TV program images had been presented at this meeting, an acknowledgment of the series’ contribution to raising awareness about World Heritage sites.

In November, we plan to broadcast a special 20th anniversary episode featuring footage from the video shown at the UNESCO meeting.

Video On Demand

TBS On Demand
Free Video Catch-Up On Demand Service

TBS On Demand is one of Japan’s largest pay video on demand services, offering about 7,000 episodes from a diverse range of over 1,200 TBS-owned titles. Our extensive lineup includes the newest dramas, as well as programs aired over the past 60 years, movies, anime and music shows. We also provide content for about 40 partner sites, giving us a presence in almost every major VOD business in the nation.

Promoting Free “Catch-up Video on Demand”

Begun in October 2014, this campaign is scheduled to continue for about a year. Its main objectives are:

1. Stamping out the increasing number of pirated videos
2. Convincing younger viewers on smart devices to engage with TV programs, thereby achieving higher TV ratings
3. Exploring the potential of the online video market, in which significant changes and growth are expected

Videos are available for free for one week with pre-roll ads, and 15-second or 30-second mid-roll ads shown in the same slots as when the program aired. This service began with five then-airing programs, including three serial dramas, and as of July 2015 the number had grown to nine with the addition of more variety shows.

The number of programs available and the length of viewing time are steadily rising, and surveys and data analysis indicate promising results for our first two objectives. TBS expects more and more people to take advantage of its massive entertainment library, and will keep developing to meet their needs.

Official logo for “TVer, ”

In October 2015, TBS and four other Tokyo-based commercial networks will launch a catch-up video streaming service called “TVer, ” an “official” common platform to boost promotion of the online delivery of TV programs. We believe this portal site will heighten recognition of our video on demand service and enhance the number of views.

The huge gap between the ad markets for traditional TV and for the online video business remains a crucial challenge to be solved. TBS believes the free on-demand service is one of its most important endeavors in tackling the dynamic media environment.

Leading the Way in Next-Generation Broadcasts

Filming K-Ballet with 4K Camera
Filming K-Ballet
Filming the Masters in 4K
Filming the Masters in 4K

Travel programs, sports and live music shows, ballet, artwork and animal documentaries -- TBS has presented them all in stunning 4K resolution.

One of our finest offerings is The World Heritage 4K Premium Edition, launched in 2013. Created in 4K and down-converted to 2K, the premium edition began airing on our terrestrial channel in April. It was previously shown through March 2015 on our broadcast satellite channel BS-TBS.

Even as a terrestrial program, The World Heritage captivates viewers with its stunning visual expression and beautiful images. The World Heritage 4K Premium Edition takes this to new heights with footage of unparalleled quality.

The prestigious Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, which we broadcast live every year, was likewise filmed in 4K, as were artistic events including performances of The Nutcracker and Cinderella by Tetsuya Kumakawa’s K-Ballet Company. We are committed to producing inspiring content worthy of the higher resolution, depth and detail of the images provided by 4K broadcasting.

TBS has also used this format to film rare and unusual animals and ecosystems around the world. Even in extreme environments such as the North Pole and the Amazon jungle, TBS is dedicated to capturing valuable, enthralling footage of the wild life.

In addition to Channel 4K, a test channel that uses a communications satellite broadcasting platform, we supply 4K content for the broadcasting and video on demand services of satellite, cable and IPTV companies. TBS is also producing more content in preparation for 4K test broadcasts scheduled to start on a broadcast satellite channel in 2016.