Ryoma-Den : An analysis of the ratings & why it is falling below 20%

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Izumisano posted the following at MashaPlus Info Forums, translated by herself from the original text by Mashamasha of the HK Discussion Forums who in turn gathered the information and analysis from Japanese fans in another very vocal forum called 2ch about the declining ratings of Ryoma-Den and I find it very interesting that I am reposting here for your attention. Do you agree with the analysis?

"If we just look at the response on the 2ch Ryomaden taiga board, comments have been extremely favourable for ep11 - ep14. Some even say that Ryomaden is finally starting to get interesting. Some have commented that they were ready to give up after ep10 but thankfully ep11 has brought them right back in.

The drop in ratings for the recent episodes (below even Tenchijin which they have termed as "a production with quality standards lower than school drama clubs") is due largely, in their opinion, to the cast and filming methods. Atsuhime and Tenchijin have the advantage of hot young idols in their cast, and as a result, they were able to amass a stable following of young audience. But these young fans may not be able to appreciate the excellent but idol-absent casting of Ryomaden (many have mentioned that, other than Masha, the rest of the cast were just too "plain" / unglamorous)

The most stable group of Taiga buffs (i.e. the over 50's) feel that (1) Ryomaden is too innovative and too heavy for them; (2) the images move too quickly and the colours are too dusty (moldy); and, (3) it's not like previous taiga dramas, where there are heaps of narration explaining the historical facts and background of the story. In other words, Ryomaden was unable to cater for elderly audience.

There is another factor involved (although mashamasha is not sure how true it is) - the ratings do not take into account HDTV broadcasts. But the industry in Japan will be upgraded to full scale HDTV broadcasting next year, which means many people have already changed over. With HD Ryomaden showing at 6pm, there was no need to watch the 8pm show again.

In fact, Ryomaden has already built up a group of die hard fans (who are definitely not Masha fans themselves, since they were very critical of his performance this week). These fans are calling for NHK to disregard all ratings, period (since they don't have pressure for commercials anyway). They say that NHK should definitely keep going with the current style and direction (they love the filming technique and the effort that's been put in the art direction, e.g. the autumn scene outside Kao's house was a studio shot, but with lighting and the autumn leaves, it looked like it was done on location). That's why they're happy to pay for it (NHK is funded by the public's television license fee)......but as Masha fans, of course we'd hope to see great ratings and raving reviews as well........" (mashamasha, Fukuyama Masaharu HK fan forum)

And here I thought it was because of the pacing. I was thinking how can a series shown once a week for 45 minutes could ever survive the 1 year or so broadcast? How can the fickle attention span of viewers be attracted every week to the telly to watch this series? No doubt it is fast paced but I am speaking from the standpoint of a person who watched hourly series every day on weekdays and even that I feel restless. It is unlike American TV and their once a week episode. There is closure for each week, it is long running. Ryoma-Den isn't so I was thinking maybe attention is lacking is because the broadcasting format is the problem? Hence reflected on the ratings? Moreover, yes a lot may be watching the earlier broadcast in HD but frankly how many people actually subscribe to HD anyway? Well can't speak for Japan because they might. However to say the cast isn't interesting enough or Masha is the only crowd pleaser or there isn't any idols... maybe the problem with TV these days is there are just way too many idol dramas that real actors who can act are being relegated to nobodies simply because they're not young/singers/in groups/in some idiotic romance drama. We can't expect the ratings to depend on teenagers and female audiences so the part on the actors itself is unfair. I feel the problem is maybe majority of people aren't interested in historical drama straight up, they prefer Jin type of historical dramas, the once a week broadcast is a problem and perhaps the ratings isn't really reflective of the number of viewers tuning in. Whatever it may be, ratings is falling and that is a fact but as to why, it may be more than people are not watching. People may prefer to record. Maybe ratings should take into account all broadcasting methods as well as those recording. The numbers will be the true value of the ratings then.


    izumisano said...

    I quite agree with the analysis in 2 ch. I can understand your views from a western perspective, but before that, we must understand what the Japanese entertainment industry is like - it's a totally different animal. I don't know enough, so can only offer what little I've seen.

    1. Japanese TV drama is weekly, not daily. It has always been, for the past decades. In other words, 25 mins / 45 mins weekly is what viewers have always been used to (other TV stations have commercials, so the length of the drama comes up to roughly the same)

    2. Yes. The entire Japanese entertainment industry is governed by teeny-boopers. Much much more so than the west. Just look at J-pop. Does it mean other age groups don't listen to music or watch TV? No, but the numbers are incomparable. That's the outstanding feature.

    And that's why it is so amazing that 41-year old Masha is still standing at the top of male solo artists. His teeny-booper fans have grown up into 30 & 40 year olds and have still stuck with him, unlike other similar artists.

    3. Ongoing research has shown that women (housewives) are the main viewers of TV in Japan. So we can question their interest in historical drama, compared to other types. However, the analysis in 2ch was only comparing like-for-like with Atsuhime and Tenchijin, the last 2 Taigas before Ryomaden. Atsuhime was a drama about the politics of women in the imperial court, not so much on history, but appeals to female viewers. Tenchijin was really REALLY hard for me to follow. I nodded off a few times in the last episode. To be honest, I am convinced the argument for idol fans and elderly viewers hold true for Tenchijin. It's......really their cup of tea. Enough to make that 5% difference in viewership. Yes.

    4. Japan will switch to digital TV on July 24, 2011. This means all Japanese TV will be broadcast in HD (SD TV to be phased out). I would say yes, the number of HDTV viewers now in Japan is getting quite substantial. You see the same happening in HK now. Again, enough to impact on a few percentage points. After all, 2ch is an entirely Japanese forum.

    For more explanation, you'll have to wait for the J-dorama experts River, Reii, pillowmasha & mashamasha.

    Hope this helps.^^

    Funn Lim said...

    Thanks Izumi for the explanation. If they're used to such pacing and the analysis in 2ch is accurate, it means the declining ratings is due to the reasons as discussed. I find that distressing. But then it has always been as such; ratings really is dependent on certain sectors, certain groups, whether or not that series itself is worthy of such ratings.

    To tell you the truth I can understand the drop of ratings for Ryoma-Den. And it is predictable because it is a very long series, a downturn in the ratings is expected. Moreover hovering at 18% isn't that bad at all. Maybe it is the contents that drive some of the usual viewers away.

    I shouldn't be so obsessed with numbers though. However I do wish to see it go back to 20% region.

    As for Masha, I suppose as his fans grow up and have children their children in turn became his fans. It helps he didn't look like uncle sort of image and his music contemporary. Also the fact that he looks good and sings even better and not like some screaming banshee ultimately secures his popularity. But competition is stiff although it is always nice to read how younger male artists idolise him. So he is on a different category now.

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