ABS-CBN will be airing its first co-produced show with NHK, Japan’s sole public broadcaster, this Sunday as the media giants attempt to pull heart strings and win new audiences in the region.
The show is based on Happy Surprise, a NHK program segment which stages fake documentaries to surprise the loved ones of featured guests.
The first episode stars Masunoya, a famous Filipino-Japanese sumo wrestler, and his mother who was driven to tears by his son’s sweet flash mob tribute, dancing with other sumo greats in one of Japan’s centuries old temples.
The show is produced by ABS-CBN and NHK variety show Totsugeki! At Home! (Visit! To your Home) and will be aired first in the Philippines on Rated K, a highly-rated weekend noontime show, on 25 May. The Japanese broadcast is set a week after on 31 May.
The partnership currently involves only co-producing shows but plans to expand it are on the table, Toru Uchiyama, Deputy Head of the Program Production Department at NHK, shared with Marketing.
“We are in the process of negotiation. We are understanding the demand from ABS-CBN and they are also understanding the demand from NHK so we can find some points where we can collaborate,” he said.
The venture undoubtedly aims to connect with thousands of Filipinos working abroad who miss loved ones back home. There are around 250,000 overseas Filipino workers in Japan alone, according to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in 2012.
Asked whether a separate Happy Surprise show on ABS-CBN is on the works, Linggit Tan, ABS-CBN TV Production Training and Content Development Officer, teased the media.
“We don’t know. It might become a surprise. Anything is possible and we are making baby steps with Masunoya’s story.”
Officials during the press conference had their lips sealed but Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Division, shared that top-rating drama anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya” will be featuring Ivy Beldad, a Filipina nurse in Japan who was the first ever foreigner to be featured in Happy Surprise – positive signs that content sharing between the networks is possible.
Reyes said that NHK is no stranger with airing ABS-CBN content in Japan. NHK previously aired The World Tonight, one ABS-CBN’s former news shows, to Japanese audience in the 1990’s.