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Ninja Warrior – Japan’s Most Global Program

American Ninja Warrior 2016 NBC Universal Media, LLC
Set constructed in Cannes
Ninja Warrior France

Known globally as Ninja Warrior, the sports entertainment TV series and format SASUKE has become TBS’s most successful global hit, and popularity continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Viewers in 165 nations and territories have cheered on competitors as they race against the clock to conquer the challenging obstacle course. In addition to broadcasting Ninja Warrior, the U.S. version of SASUKE, TV stations from around the globe have purchased the format rights from TBS and produced localized versions of the program.

Overseas versions of SASUKE often refer to the course as “Mt. Midoriyama,” a nod to TBS’s Midoriyama studio where the show is filmed, and “Conquer Mt. Midoriyama” has become a catchcry among competitors and fans around the world. For many of them, Mt. Midoriyama has become a sacred place.

SASUKE has been especially popular in the United States. The locally produced American Ninja Warrior was launched in 2009 and moved to a prime-time slot on the NBC terrestrial television network in 2011. In 2014, it scaled new heights by achieving the highest ratings for its time slot for 14 consecutive weeks and brought in more than 100 million viewers over the season, making it one of the biggest hit series of summer 2014. It has grown year after year, most recently being nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2016 for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. The ninth season is set to air in 2017.

The first version of SASUKE to be produced in another Asian country was SASUKE MALAYSIA, launched in 2011 as part of an anti-obesity campaign supported by Malaysia’s government. This was followed by SASUKE SINGAPORE in 2012 and Ninja Warrior Türkiye (the first version for the Middle East) in Turkey in 2013. In 2015, SASUKE took Europe by storm as a string of local versions were rolled out – Ninja Warrior Sverige in Sweden, Ninja Warrior UK in Britain, and Danmarks Ninja Warrior in Denmark. In the same year, SASUKE VIETNAM became the third version produced in Asia and SASUKE CHINA became the fourth. As of July 2016, 12 local versions of SASUKE have been produced, including Ninja Warrior France and Ninja Warrior Germany, which both started this year.

TBS has signed agreements covering the production of a local version of SASUKE for Australia and another that will be broadcast in 17 Arabic-speaking nations. Negotiations on local versions are continuing with several other countries, so the SASUKE brand is poised to expand even further.

TBS Programs Reaching Every Corner of the World

For more than half a century, TBS has been a trailblazing Japanese media company with its enterprising approach to international program sales. Tens of thousands of episodes from more than 1,000 TBS titles have been distributed to countries and territories across the globe. We continue to strengthen our ability to communicate with overseas markets, including completely redesigning our website and making its content available in the languages of 80 foreign countries.

Takeshi’s Castle Thailand

SASUKE/NinjaWarrior is only one of TBS’s major hits. TBS began program format sales in the 1980s in cooperation with U.S. agent Bellon Entertainment, and has since been a major international player in this field. America’s Funniest Home Videos, 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 27 years, making it the longest-running entertainment program in ABC’s history. The extremely popular reality game show Takeshi’s Castle and its format have also been aired in 159 countries and territories.

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.

TBS is an active player in the domestic and international anime markets, producing about 10 animation series each year. Since 2010, TBS has committed significant resources to presales and streaming anime programs. Several of TBS’s anime programs are streamed to overseas viewers at almost the same time as they are broadcast in Japan. This has increased sales and helped combat piracy.

Sleepeeer hit!

TBS’s drama series have been popular overseas for many years. Most of our serial dramas are broadcast in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and in recent years an increasing number of our dramas are being aired in Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, TBS has sold the rights to remake our shows to producers in China and South Korea, and we expect further growth in this market.

Flying Colors: How a Teen Girl Went from Academic Absurdity
to an Elite University in One Amazing Year
poster for China release

TBS produces more than 10 feature films annually and actively promotes their sales overseas, including at film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival, where we have a booth every year.

Filming The Colors of Japan, a co-production with Vietnam

TBS has enthusiastically engaged in co-productions with other Asian broadcasters, including TV stations in Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand. Recently, we teamed up with Vietnam Television (VTV) to produce a remake of the drama Song of the Sun and the documentary The Colors of Japan. With Taiwan’s Formosa Television, we produced Appreciation Trip to Miyagi - Thank the Support from Taiwan for the Aftermath of 3/11. With Thailand’s Amarin TV, we co-produced I-I-YO-NE! JAPAN, a variety program featuring the best food and travel spots in Japan.

TBS Brings World-Class Sporting Events to Viewers


TBS Delivers Unparalleled Coverage of Athletics
Since 1997, TBS has broadcast the biennial IAAF World Championships, one of the jewels in our lineup crown. In addition to showing athletes competing on the global stage, we have fostered strong relationships with them over many years and infuse our athletics coverage with exclusive footage and interviews. TBS was host broadcaster at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, and about 800 of our staffers were involved in delivering magnificent coverage of this event watched by viewers around the world. These efforts earned TBS the IOC Grand Prize for the world’s best sports images, a recognition of our superb video production technologies. During the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, TBS featured exhilarating contests between the world’s finest athletes live in golden time (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) for nine consecutive days as athletics fever swept across Japan. We also will provide extensive coverage of the 2017 World Championships in London.


Prestigious International Golf Tournaments
Every year, TBS broadcasts two of golf’s majors from the United States, the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship. We have broadcast the Masters since 1976, and many Japanese golf fans associate TBS with this prestigious tournament. We also broadcast two of the women’s majors – the ANA Inspiration and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.


FIVB Volleyball World Championships and Olympic Qualification Tournament
TBS broadcasts someof 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, the final gateway to the Olympics. As host broadcaster of the 2010 World Championships, TBS produced and sent video feeds of all 108 matches around the world. Our coverage, including matches played by the Japan national women’s team as it clinched the bronze medal, helped spark a surge in interest in volleyball.


World Baseball Classic (WBC)
TBS broadcast live games from all three editions of the World Baseball Classic – a tournament to determine the world’s best team – in 2006, 2009, and 2013. In 2015, we broadcast the inaugural WBSC Premier 12, an event featuring 12 national teams. Our live coverage included games featuring “Samurai Japan,” Japan’s national team.

Japan’s Premier World Heritage Documentary Series

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. Since the series started in 1996, The World Heritage has highlighted over 650 sites. This program combines the highest levels of visual quality with compelling narration and beautiful music to convey the magnificence of these natural and man-made sites.

Program shown at the World Heritage Committee in Bonn
4K drone shot of Machu Picchu
Filming with a drone in 4K

In June 2015, a video commemorating 20 years of The World Heritage was presented at a session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Germany. This was the first time TV program images had been presented at a meeting of this international committee, an acknowledgment of the TBS series’ contribution to raising awareness about World Heritage sites.

In April 2015, we started showing episodes of The World Heritage 4K Premium Edition on our terrestrial channel. The quality of the original 4K footage ensures superior images to regular high-definition broadcasts, even though the footage is down-converted to HD, due to the significant amount of visual data it contains. We have broadcast five of these premium editions, which are aired once a season. The March 2016 episode focused on the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru and earned rave reviews for its powerful images, which included the first-ever aerial footage of the site taken by a drone equipped with a 4K camera.

To mark the series’ 20th anniversary, TBS broadcast special episodes titled World Heritage Sites Altered by Humankind and World Heritage Sites Altered by Nature over two weeks in November 2015. This project was praised for using both exquisite footage accumulated over many years and the latest location footage to detail changes occurring at these sites. It was awarded the Galaxy Honors for Programs Recommended, an accolade presented to superb TV programs by a Japanese media industry organization.

Revolutionary 360-Degree Theater to Open in Tokyo in 2017

Image of completed IHI STAGE AROUND TOKYO
Construction of audience seats on rotating platform
Construction of audience seats on rotating platform

TBS will revolutionize the Japanese theater scene with its launch of the IHI STAGE AROUND TOKYO in spring 2017. The first 360-degree theater in Asia, STAGE AROUND TOKYO will provide audiences with a breathtaking experience.

Able to accommodate about 1,300 people, the theater has a unique setup. The audience sits in the center, on a large circular platform that can rotate to face each of the four spectacular stages that surround the auditorium. Video images can be displayed on huge screens. This elaborate 360-degree space enables performances and productions that are simply inconceivable in conventional theaters.

This rotating theater system was created in the Netherlands. Since opening there in 2010, it has been used for the Soldier of Orange musical, which has been seen by more than 1.9 million people and become a record-breaking long-running production.

The operators of this unique Dutch theater received a deluge of requests from around the world for licenses to replicate it, and TBS was awarded the exclusive right to operate one in Japan. It is only the second in the world, ahead of a similar theater scheduled to open in London at the end of 2017.

Museum of The Little Prince a Popular Tourist Spot

Musee du Petit Prince de Saint Exupery a Hakone

The Musee du Petit Prince de Saint Exupery a Hakone (Museum of The Little Prince) is a popular tourist spot in the town of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, attracting 180,000 visitors annually. The number of visitors to Hakone plunged in 2015 following a volcanic eruption in the Owakudani district, but the situation has returned to normal and many foreign tourists, especially from Asia, put the town on their must-see list. The TBS-operated museum is dedicated to the French writer Antoine Saint-Exupery and his most famous novel, The Little Prince. In addition to a picturesque garden and a permanent exhibition that recreates the world view of The Little Prince, the museum features augmented reality events using state-of-the-art technology, live music concerts, and seasonal festivities such as a huge Christmas tree to delight and entertain visitors.

4K - Leading the Way to the Future of TV


Travel programs, sports, 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, which we began producing in 2013. Created in 4K and then down-converted to HD, this premium edition of our award-winning World Heritage series began airing on our terrestrial channel in 2015. Even in its original form in regular HD, the World Heritage series captivates viewers with its stunning visual expression and beautiful images. The World Heritage 4K Premium Edition takes this to new heights with footage of unsurpassed quality.

4K filming of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy
The Masters Tournament

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

TBS has used this format to film rare and unusual animals and ecosystems around the world as well. Even in extreme environments such as the North Pole, the Himalayas, and the Amazon jungle, TBS is dedicated to capturing enthralling footage of wildlife. We also use drones equipped with cameras to shoot breathtaking images.

We further trialed a high-dynamic range technology to film TBS-sponsored exhibitions of artwork by Vermeer and Rembrandt. This cutting-edge technology produced images befitting the masterpieces of two titans who used light and shadow extensively in their paintings.

In addition to providing 4K content for a test channel that uses a communications satellite (CS) broadcasting platform, we supply it for the broadcasting and video-on-demand services of satellite, cable, and IPTV companies. TBS is preparing more content for 4K test broadcasts scheduled to start on a broadcast satellite (BS) channel in December 2016.