Japan: No TV, let’s play Wii

Japanese are ditching dramas and vetoing variety shows, leaving one remote on the coffee table in favor of another more entertaining one. We already knew that the Nintendo Wii prints money, but now it turns out that it has the power to steal audiences from prime time television, too.

The Times reports that media insiders believe that the game system is responsible for an unprecedented decline in ratings numbers and viewing figures for Japan’s top-rated television shows. With Nintendo selling more systems than ever, they might be the perfect scapegoat. One executive from Japan’s largest network, Fuji TV, says that families seem to be drifting away from their regular television habits, moving towards more quality time with their Wii. Television big dogs were shocked to find out that no single show on any station attracted more than a nine percent audience share last week.

“The quality of programming has always been a little cyclical in Japan, but there has never been a period of decline like the one we are seeing now. There are outside factors at work. One is people watching TV on their cell phones where we can’t track them, but the really big factor is the time people are spending on the Wii,” an executive of TBS, another major commercial channel, said.

The exec goes on to say that television makers may be losing as they’re not used to competing with anything but other television programming. He also is quick to point out that the Wii has not won yet, and that the Olympic Games, Japanese baseball, and the World Cup haven’t weighed in yet.

Our take? It’s great that people are getting their asses off the couch. No one should be complaining about that. Let’s hope that trend catches on in America and Europe, too.

[via The Times ]

Dale North