March 21, 2019

Japanese media update (updated)

So after a dozen years, I bid Dish a fond farewell. I must point out that the agent I spoke with was affable, courteous, and professional. If that's the norm at Dish in customer retention, my hat's off to them. Well done. I wouldn't have left if TV Japan hadn't left first.

TV Japan is why I subscribed to Dish in the first place. As I have documented in previous posts, in early 2018, TV Japan (née NHK Cosmomedia) abandoned Dish and made DirecTV its exclusive satellite provider. No explanation for only making their satellite service exclusive.

Family Gekijyo filled the empty programming slot. In Japan, Family Gekijyo resembles ION TV, its schedule consisting of a few original shows and a whole bunch of reruns. The problem is, Family Gekijyo in Japan in no way resembles the Family Gekijyo that Dish ended up with.

Perhaps Family Gekjyo is using the channel assignment as a placeholder for something else. Though it's more likely it underestimated the cost and difficulty of negotiating overseas rights for the content it broadcasts in Japan. Its Dish offerings are old, threadbare, and repetitious.

NHK, by contrast, has an annual operating budget of around $7 billion and an equivalent amount of political pull.

Which is too bad. Dish charged almost thirty dollars less than DirecTV and Xfinity for a similar "limited basic" package plus a premium international channel. (If you're an Internet or cable subscriber, the Xfinity rate card can be downloaded here.)

A dozen years with Dish established my pain point at $40/month total for a single à la carte programming package. TV Japan isn't available on Xfinity Instant TV. The lowest-cost "cable box" package pushes the out-of-pocket to $60/month, and that's not including all the additional taxes and fees.

Over $70/month to access a single channel? No way, no how. Frankly, even $40/month is too rich for my blood these days, especially compared to what streaming has to offer.

Crunchyroll is the biggest anime kid on the block and has the best website. Lots of reviews. Funimation has a smaller library but is the biggest licensee of physical media in North America. It's hard to pass over since the partnership with Crunchyroll ended and Funimation left with its exclusive content.

The thing is, these services are so affordable that subscribing to a couple will hardly break the bank.

Tubi is an ad-supported free streaming service with a surprising number of Japanese movies and anime. The ads can get samey but they are parceled out parsimoniously, they're not loud, and the ad engine is well-integrated. The overall viewing experience is superior to commercial TV.

For the time being, here's my list of go-to Roku channels:

 • Crunchyroll ($7.99/month or $79.99/year)
 • Funimation ($5.99/month or $59.99/year)
 • NHK World (free)
 • Tubi (free)

dLibrary Japan ($9.99/month) is how NHK Cosmomedia reuses content originally licensed for TV Japan. When it first launched, it charged too much for too little. But it's been steadily adding content to its catalog. Once it gets a Roku app, I'll kick the tires and drive it around the block.

Even with dLibrary Japan, I'd be nowhere near that $40/month threshold. I'll probably toss HIDIVE ($4.99/month) into the mix when it gets a Roku app. HIDIVE hosts a number of highly watchable Sentai Filmworks exclusives.

Related sites

Crunchyroll
dLibrary Japan
Funimation
HIDIVE
NHK World
Roku
Tubi TV
TV Japan

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