The Beginning of The End of TV Stations | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Beginning of The End of TV Stations

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Matsumoto may be the reason for the lack of budget for “Wednesday Downtown.”

What happened to the popular program “Wednesday’s Downtown” (TBS)? The March 13 and 20 broadcasts were almost identical for two weeks in a row, leaving viewers stunned. And at the end of the program,

“We aired the same content as last week because the budget for this fiscal year has run out.”

A caption revealed the surprising reason. Consequently, the broadcast on the following week, the 27th, garnered attention, but it turned out to be a compilation of past memorable scenes. On social media,

“Seriously, they really ran out of budget.”

“Repeats and compilations for two weeks in a row… Is it because of the budget?”

Posts like these continued to appear,

“If they saved on Matsumoto Hitoshi’s salary, there should have been some budget left, right?”

“Did they seriously run out of budget because sponsors backed out? Really?”

Some comments also speculate about the involvement of Matsumoto Hitoshi, who is currently on hiatus from activities. Some see it as a tactic to generate buzz to boost ratings, but what’s the actual truth?

According to a veteran producer who has long been in charge of variety shows on major networks, recent variety programs have been produced with extremely tight budgets.

“The possibility that the budget is insufficient is plausible. This is because ‘Wednesday Downtown’ is a program produced by the station itself, not outsourced to a production company. As a result, the studio rental fees and the use of company facilities and equipment are covered. These costs are determined taking into account factors like depreciation, but the actual production costs are not always clear.

For example, in the 1990s, there were variety shows aired during prime time with production costs of around 50 million yen per episode. Now it’s about half of that. You might think it’s a considerable amount, but if you factor in overseas shoots or other expenses, the production costs can quickly exceed the budget, especially for variety shows with many location shoots.”

Amidst this, a popular variety show that was also getting good ratings quietly got canceled. That show was “Is That Really So!? What’s the Reality?” (Nippon TV).

“Last November, the same program, which also won the monthly Galaxy Award, achieved unusually high ratings for a late-night slot. There were even talks about moving it to prime time, but ultimately it was canceled. The reason, like ‘Wednesday Downtown,’ is rumored to be the inability to cover production costs,” (the aforementioned producer).

The production of the program is handled by Chukyo Television Broadcasting, a network affiliated with Nippon TV. According to the producer mentioned earlier,

“For local stations, I think the budget is even smaller than for key stations. And if you have high-paying talent or actors appearing, it’s going to be even harder to make ends meet.”


Whether at key stations or local ones, one might assume that private broadcasters would manage somehow with solid sponsorships, but it seems even securing those sponsors has become difficult. An advertising agency employee stated,

“The era where television was the primary advertising medium is over. TV viewership decline is not just among young people. Until the 1990s, TV stations had strong sales teams, and rejecting sponsors was part of their job. Now it’s the opposite. Advertising budgets are negotiated down, and sponsors will withdraw at the slightest issue. Moreover, the survival of late-night programs is becoming increasingly precarious. Health consciousness and energy efficiency are being advocated, and viewers are simply not watching late-night shows as much anymore.”

The commentary presents a pessimistic view. However, the possibility that the production costs for “Wednesday Downtown” fell short is likely influenced by Matsumoto’s situation.

“I haven’t heard any talk about sponsors withdrawing, but it could happen in the future. Even if they don’t withdraw completely, there’s a possibility that they’ve reduced advertising budgets. Nowadays, complaints go directly to sponsors, so to avoid tarnishing their image, they may have to sever ties with the program,” (the aforementioned advertising agency employee).

It’s not just the programs but the television stations themselves that are facing an existential crisis.

*”FRIDAY Digital” welcomes your information and tip-offs. Please send your information to the following information form or to the official X.

Information Form:

Official X:

  • PHOTO Ippei Hara

Photo Gallery1 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles