The Japanese, once one of the most TV-addicted people on the planet, are watching less television these days. Daily TV viewing time, which averaged more than five hours in the 1970s, decreased to 3 hours and 28 minutes by 2010, according to the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute. Males aged 10 to 20 are watching less than two hours a day. Meanwhile, program ratings have been going down for most networks, including NHK, TV Asahi, NTV, TBS, Fuji TV and TV Tokyo, despite spikes for major sport events and other special programming.
There are various causes for this decrease in TV viewing. Like other countries, Japanese families no longer sit around the TV watching the same show, as viewers did in the 1960 to 1990s. The Japanese now use other devices for entertainment, including PCs, smartphones and game consoles. But the biggest cause, says Hiro Otaka, a media analyst for the Bunka Tsushin entertainment news services, is that the programs have become boring. "They don't put as much money or creativity into the shows as they used to, so program content has declined," he says. "You have so many of these cheaply made variety shows with comedians, it's hard to tell them apart. Viewers have just become tired of the same thing again and again."