Pay-TV Purveyor Wowow Readies Three New Channels for Japan

New offerings will focus on family content, sports and movies.

TOKYO – Wowow, Japan’s biggest pay TV network, announced Wednesday the details of the three new HD channels it will launch in October.

Wowow Prime will be family oriented, focusing on dubbed versions of foreign dramas and movies, while Wowow Live will run mainly live music and sports events, while Wowow Cinema will broadcast 800 films per year, ranging from blockbusters to European and Asian arthouse fare.

“We will aim to continue to differentiate ourselves from the commercial terrestrial channels and NHK [public broadcaster] by offering distinctly different entertainment programming,” said Wowow president Nobuya Wazaki at a Tokyo event to introduce the new channels.

The current monthly fee of 2,415 yen ($29) for Wowow’s single channel will give access to all the new channels, according to Wazaki.

Wowow has been the biggest winner of the new channel licenses granted as analog broadcasting comes to an end on July 24 this year.

The network has enjoyed growth recent years, taking subscribers back over the 2.5 million mark by the end of 2010.

The company is opening in Los Angeles to source content for the new channels.

Popular former national soccer team manager Takeshi Okada, who led Japan to the last 16 of last summer’s World Cup, is to be a sports announcer on the Wowow Live channel.

“Since March 11, something has changed in Japan,” said Takada, referring to the day the huge earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeastern coast.

“Japanese people used to basically pretend not to look at anything beyond economic advancement, but the disaster has meant they have had to face other things. The businesses that recognize that are the ones that will survive,” said Okada.