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Watching TV in Japan

  • 2017-05-29 (月) 22:37


With streaming and Internet services, foreign residents have much more choice in TV programming than before. Locally, TV channels are offered through the basic digital feed, as well as BS and CS feeds. Cable TV also exist here. However, with the proliferation of Internet streaming, services like cable TV or even satellite are becoming less popular options. Below is a brief description of the options.

Japanese Satellite/Cable TV

The old fashion way — there are several large paid commerical TV service  providers offering similar channels. The monthly fee ranges from around several thousand yen for the basic package, with premium paid channels usually costing extra.

iTSCom: A cable company which also offers internet and landline phone service, with discounted bundles for TV, internet, and telephone. Channels include: Fox, Disney, Fox Sports, Disney, Cartoon Network, Discovery, Baby TV, History, National Geographic, Animal Planet, CNN, BBC, MTV.

J:COM: A cable company which also offers internet and landline phone service, with discounted bundles for TV, internet, and telephone. Channels include: CNN, BBC, MTV, Fox Sports, Fox, Travel Channel, Cartoon Network, Disney, History, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet.

Sky PerfecTV! uses either a satellite (two types: BS/CS110° or their own type of satellite)feed or runs through NTT’s fiber-optic line. There are several English-language channels: Fox, Fox Sports, Disney, Cartoon Network, Discovery, Animal Planet, History, National Geographic, CNN, BBC.

Internet-based Content Providers

The list of options for TV content based on the internet is endless: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Sling TV, YouTube, and Amazon Video. A real-time, channel-based internet streaming based content provider owned by Dish Network. You can get their basic package, which includes channels such as BBC America, CNN, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, HGTV, History, TBS, Food Network, the Travel Channel, and others. Note that a VPN setupi s necessary to unblock regional limitations.

Internet-based VPNs: a VPN setup enables streaming of content from abroad with such services like Hulu and Netflix.

Internet-based Players: While internet-based content work via a computer or by connecting one to a TV, content players; such as Roku Box, Chromecast, Amazon Firestick or Apple TV, would make it more convenient, especially since most come wit a remote control.

A side note regarding NHK: Japan has a national broadcasting service called NHK, and like the UK, this is funded through subscriptions. In Japan, the rather expensive subscription (about JPY20,000/year for one TV) is “legally” binding for any residence with a TV tuning capability. While there is a mandate, do note that there is no penalty in place for those who do not subscribe. Salespeople for the NHK often conduct door-to-door visits to get residents to sign up for the subscription. Once a subscription is signed up, it would be hard to cancel out of it.


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