The title of this post is misleading. It says, “Data on Young People in Japan Show Extremely Difficult Times Coming for Old Media.” That’s wrong; those hard times are already here. Have been for a while. It’s not going to get better, either.

I’ve written before about how the Digital Age would destroy TV. Today I met the president of one of the (if not the) largest internet companies in Japan, and he quite-as-a-matter-of-fact said, “TV and radio have no future.”

The data isn’t good for old media. When people under 25 don’t care about you, barring some sort of miracle, you don’t have a good future.

It’s that simple.

The data is shocking: young Japanese people today have a smart phone or iPad, PC or whatever in their bedrooms. But they don’t have a TV or radio in that same room.

I was shown data at another company that makes content for TV as well as other online platforms; they have seen the writing on the wall and are moving into digital rights management and programming for the internet. The survey I was shown was of people 13 to under 29 and it showed that only 11% had a TV in their bedroom; 6% had a radio (those must all be people over 25). But over 97% had a smart device or PC.

The Japanese youth market obsession with smart devices has even hurt automobile sales in Japan as the Wall Street Journal reports: “Reasons [for the drop in sales of automobiles] include higher gasoline prices and Japan’s graying population. But even more worrying to auto makers are signs that the downturn is part of a deeper generational shift among young Japanese consumers. Unlike their parents’ generation, which viewed cars as the passport to freedom and higher social status, the Internet-connected Japanese youths today look to cars with indifference, according to market research by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and Nissan. Having grown up with the Internet, they no longer depend on a car for shopping, entertainment and socializing and prefer to spend their money in other ways.”

Give you one guess which devices occupies the vast majority of these people’s free time? Cars or smart devices? Oh, and by the way, one of the places that people most commonly listen to the FM radio is in cars… But young people are not buying those? Double Whammy!

Now you know why Japan’s Niconico Douga gets 5 million viewers for some shows and young people do not watch TV or listen to the radio anymore… The smart device is under their pillow or in their hands all the time.

Do you remember the Ramones song, “Rock N Roll Radio”? I remember it well. The lyrics went like this:

“Do you remember lying in bed, with the covers up over your head, the radio playing so no one can see?”

In 10 years, it’s going to say, “Do you remember lying in bed, with the covers up over your head, Smart Phone playing so no one can see?”

By they way, Niconico Douga is the #8 most popular internet page in Japan, above both Twitter and Facebook… Facebook is #9 and Twitter has dropped in these last few weeks to #11.

Tech site, The Bridge writes: “Niconico Douga quietly first emerged back in December of 2006… Since then, the site has offered many unique features to its users, successfully accumulating over 30 million users as of 2012. That averages out to a whopping 440,000 new users per month. The user demographic is mostly male (with 67% men and 33% women) and most of the active users are in the 20-29 age range (about 42%). There have been over 8.7 million videos uploaded to the site in total.

In general, the site is sort of perceived as a place for otaku who typically prefer anonymous communication. However since the launch of live streaming videos, people in the mainstream have also joined the site, including but not limited to politicians, idol groups, and music bands. Currently there are almost 100 official channels that live stream content on the site. What’s interesting is that Niconico Douga allows users to sign up using Facebook credentials, and that of course requires your real name. This may have been influenced by Ustream, which uses Twitter and Facebook for sign-in.”

Wikipedia states: “As of October 31, 2011, Niconico has over 23,690,000 registered users, 6,870,000 mobile users and 1,390,000 premium users.”

This isn’t really rocket science, folks. These facts and data do not bode well for TV or FM radio at all.

Did you also know that all smart phones have a FM radio chip built in on them but the makers do not turn it on because they have determined that there is not enough demand for FM radio? Did you know that all Japanese car manufacturers stopped putting FM radios in car as a standard item in 2010?

The writing is on the wall for FM radio. TV will take longer to collapse as Japan has an aging society and those folks watch TV.

So, TV will survive much longer, but it still has a demographic that is not good for future growth. In Japan, the elderly have surpassed the younger age group since 1997.”

Jeez! Rock and Roll Radio by the Ramones came out in 1980? That’s 35 years ago!!!??? Maybe Rock and Roll never ends, but Rock N Roll FM radio doesn’t look like it can make it.


Finally, this isn’t just a trend in Japan, it’s worldwide and occurring in so-called “wealthy nations.” Here’s information from the New York Times: “Over the last 10 years, the average share of Americans listening to radio at any given time has shrunk about 14 percent, or 2.3 percentage points. Teenagers account for a well-recognized chunk of that decline. But Larry Rosin, a radio consultant with Edison Media Research in Somerville, N.J., points out that college graduates are also far less likely to listen to radio than nongraduates, a gap that has widened with time.”

What conclusion can we come to with this information in hand?


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