To the World on the InternetNHK WORLD
NHK WORLD ONLINE is NHK WORLD’s Internet service. It uses a variety of channels to send information to web users around the world. On its homepage, it offers scripts and video clips from news and other programs of NHK WORLD. It also offers live streaming of broadcasts and apps for mobile devices.
Outline of Services ＞ NHK WORLD ONLINE
NHK WORLD ONLINE
- Internet service in 18 languages
- Content distributed through live streaming via application on the Internet, podcasting and on-demand service.
■MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION
- Distributed to Internet users on PCs, tablets, smartphones and other cellular phones.
NHK WORLD’S TV AND RADIO PROGRAMS OFFERED ON THE INTERNET, AS THEY AIR
Internet as a Transmitting Tool like TV and Radio
Since its starting days, NHK WORLD’s Internet service has been expanding with two pillars: streaming of programs as they air, and on-demand distribution after broadcasting. In February 2009, when NHK WORLD TV restarted as an all-English round-the-clock channel, it began live streaming its programs. This means that for NHK WORLD, the Internet functions as a transmitting tool just like television and radio. According to the Operation Standards for NHK under the Broadcast Law, NHK WORLD TV is NHK’s only TV channel that can offer its programs on the Internet as they air.
Updating Content Around the Clock
NHK has set up the NHK WORLD Internet service room as its base to transmit, oversee and update content of live streamed news and other programs around the clock. Staff members take turns on duty for 24 hours a day to update content and support distribution. NHK has also introduced a system to automatically record radio news as it airs in order to offer it on demand the moment a broadcast is over.
News in English Getting the Most Hits
The feature getting the most hits on the homepage is news in English. The latest news on Japan and the rest of the world, broadcast by NHK WORLD TV’s hourly news program “NEWSLINE,” is promptly uploaded.
The scripts are made by the English Center of the NHK WORLD Department. Its Internet desks are always in contact with the Internet service room to update English news on the website.
The site’s page on English news was renewed in July 2014. Since then, not only straight news but also feature stories and interviews aired on “NEWSLINE” and video clips have been uploaded. This is to make the content even more interesting.
Live Streaming and Great East Japan Earthquake
In February 2009, I was busy preparing for the renewal of NHK WORLD TV. The goal was to make it an all-English service. I was engaged in advertising the service abroad and making in-house posters for it. At the same time, I was working to start the live streaming of NHK WORLD TV. I still remember the glow in the morning sky I used to see after all-night work.
The next year, we released apps for iPhones. Our work to “put the lid on images” (our jargon for using sheets to cover images we cannot offer for the Internet because of copyright restrictions) had been reduced. Our service was being stabilized. Then, on March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit.
NHK WORLD TV’s program that was airing when the quake hit was not offered for live streaming. So we manually began transmitting the news live on the Internet. Images aired on NHK’s main domestic channel, General TV, were sent around the world and used by various broadcasting stations, until official feeds on NHK WORLD TV were distributed.
Teams of four took turns overseeing the broadcasting. On the second day, we began offering live streaming to external video portal sites and distributed high-quality videos abroad. The number of daily downloads of iPhone apps kept rising so sharply that on the sixth day after the quake, it reached 63,000. From the 11th, the day of the quake, until the 15th, 5,400,000 viewers (unique users) watched our streaming content. This showed the power of live videos.
(Tatsuya Sasahara, 2008-2011, Programming and Public Relations Division, NHK WORLD Dept.)
JAPANESE-LANGUAGE LEARNING PROGRAM POPULAR
Content on Radio Japan on the web comprises:
- News in 18 languages (live and on-demand distribution and podcasting except in Japanese);
- News scripts in 14 languages;
- News video clips translated from English to Chinese and Portuguese;
- Programs in 18 languages (live and on-demand distribution, in Japanese only for some programs);
- Introducing Radio Japan’s programs in 17 languages excluding Japanese;
- Sites for Japanese-language learning, cooking programs and travelogues in 17 languages.
As of autumn 2014, among services in different languages, the site’s page in Chinese had the second-most hits after that in English.
As for content, the Japanese-language learning program “Easy Japanese” had the most hits. It was accessed the most from Vietnam, followed by the rest of Southeast Asia and Brazil.
NHK WORLD TV’s Diverse Sites
NHK WORLD TV’s website introduces all its regular and special programs. This may sound natural, but was achieved only in autumn 2013. The system to make and update the site was unable to catch up with the rapid expansion of programs offered by NHK WORLD TV.
Currently, NHK WORLD TV has two kinds of sites: uniform sites using a software template on which announcements and related photos of upcoming programs sent from their producers are placed, and individual sites made by program producers. Producers of pop culture programs tend to open their own sites. They upload not only announcements about their upcoming programs but also detailed information on the shows with interactive capability. They use the sites to communicate with viewers, and the sites get many hits.
New Services in Response to User Trends
Since the beginning of the 2010s, when the use of smartphones and tablet devices was spreading widely, NHK has been developing ways to allow users to access NHK WORLD on the Internet. What has been done so far:
- Developing apps for TV viewing and radio for Android and iOS devices;
- Optimizing homepage presentation for smartphones.
Full renewal of NHK WORLD ONLINE’s website is scheduled for 2015 to further improve its design and usability with more emphasis on mobile devices.
Also in 2015, NHK is to begin an on-demand service for NHK WORLD TV programs on the website. Such service is almost standard in the U.S. and Europe, and has been requested strongly by many viewers who want to catch up on or rewatch shows.
Apps Connect People to NHK WORLD Anywhere
In February 2010, one year after NHK WORLD TV became an all-English, round-the-clock channel, NHK began offering a free app for watching NHK WORLD TV on iPhone. Viewers can use the app if they are in environments with high-speed IP circuits or Wi-Fi. In October 2012, the app became available to both iOS and Android users.
NHK then developed a free app for listening to Radio Japan. In June 2012, it released a version for iOS, and in May 2013, for Android. As the app was developed at a late stage, it has many functions. It shows the broadcast schedule of programs in 17 languages except Japanese. Users can listen to what’s currently on the air. They can also see the contents of previously aired programs, and listen to the latest news offered by Radio Japan as well as stories aired during the past seven days. The services are just as good as those offered on the website.
From when the app was introduced in 2010 until the end of 2014, TV and radio apps were downloaded about 2,860,000 times. Now that smartphones and tablet devices are used around the world, the apps are effective tools for providing easy access to NHK WORLD. NHK is set to advertise the apps and improve their functions even further.