November 29, 2018

Japanese media update

Two years ago, Funimation and Crunchyroll partnered up to cross-license anime streaming rights. A lot has happened since. Crunchyroll was acquired by AT&T (via Warner Media). Sony Pictures purchased Funimation. The joint agreement "ended amicably" in October. Annoyed anime fans will have to purchase two subscriptions for the same content.

At least anime streaming services are reasonably priced. Satellite and cable, not so much. But several new options have emerged. TV Japan is no longer exclusive to one provider.

Back in April, TV Japan moved from Dish to DirecTV. Dish handed the slot to Family Gekijyo. Family Gekijyo is Japan's version of channels like MeTV that rerun "classic TV." It's only as good as the shows in rotation. A mixed bag compared even to Family Gekijyo's home network in Japan, the content on Dish is a pale shadow of TV Japan.

If it keeps improving, it could become an attractive addition to (not a substitute for) TV Japan. For now, that's looking like a reach.

Though priced the same as TV Japan on DirecTV and Xfinity ($24.99), as an à la carte channel, Family Gekijyo on Dish is the better deal. "International Basic" on Dish is $15.00/month. "Limited Basic" on Xfinity is $20.00/month and "Basic Choice" on DirecTV is $20.99/month. That's before they sneak in a bunch of unwanted fees like "local channels."

TV Japan on Xfinity Stream costs the same as the cable package. Xfinity Stream does save you on the equipment rental. But, again, you will get stung for the mandatory "local channels" and fees. Dish lets you opt out of local channels. Because some of us have what's known as an "antenna" (cutting edge technology in 1902).

TV Japan has its own archive service called "dLibrary Japan" that reruns select programming from its cable/satellite channel. If you already have TV Japan, you will have seen most of the content already. And dLibrary Japan doesn't stream live or almost-live content like sumo tournaments and news.

But at $9.95/month, it's a great deal if you're not going to subscribe to TV Japan (I'm still waiting for a Roku app). NHK World carries (English language) news, NHK documentaries, and sumo tournaments (no dramas or non-NHK content) and can be streamed for free.

Speaking of NHK World, the Utah Educational Network now broadcasts NHK World in full on UEN 9.4. KUED 7.2 (PBS) and UEN 9.1 also carry half-hour segments from NHK World in their international news lineups.

Ideally, Family Gekijyo would join TV Japan and NHK World (already free as a public service) in a single Japanese-language package. That's not going to happen anytime soon. So I'll give Family Gekijyo another month or two to improve, stream Crunchyroll, and watch NHK World the old-fashioned way (except when the reception is bad).

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Streaming Japanese
Family Gekijyo
Crunchy Fun and the Yahoos
Sink or stream

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