Nippon TV’s Chihiro Shizawa on Strengths of Game Shows


The demand for game-show formats has remained high since last year, and Nippon TV has convention-breaking propositions ready to satisfy the market appetite. “Buyers always ask, ‘Do you have any crazy formats that I haven’t seen anywhere else?,’” says Chihiro Shizawa, sales and licensing at Nippon TV. She points to demand for Asian-inspired ideas from the European and North American markets.

“We are creating programs with concepts that overturn conventional ideas in a positive sense or with innovative concepts created by combining traditional genres,” Shizawa adds. Mute it!, for one, asks participants to complete a mission without making more than 50 decibels of noise. Shizawa says it is “a good example of a new idea that breaks away from the traditional stereotype of game shows as being loud and noisy.”

Money or Junk combines the popular genre of business shows with the new elements of digital and craft. The format has received inquiries from the European market, Shizawa notes.

New to the marketplace, Dark Doubt is an escape game show with a horror twist. It sees seven contestants attempt to break out through pitch-black stages in order to clear missions within a time limit. Placed in various unknown locations, contestants must work together to navigate through the dark to try to escape. As an additional twist, “moles” are thrown into the mix to heighten the thrill and suspense among contestants. “It is an ultimate challenge of horror, testing to see who will manage to go through the dark despite all doubts,” says Shizawa.

Also a new offering, Turbo Brain is a rapid-fire battle of the mind. “Knowledge is usually power, but not in this show,” Shizawa says.  “Contestants will have to put their brain into turbo mode and answer questions at a supersonic speed. The universally themed questions are visually engaging and cognitively demanding.” In a one-on-one knockout tournament, six contestants will compete to be crowned champion in the brain-teasing game show.

“The power of game-show formats has no limits,” Shizawa says. “Even though our original ideas are based on our 30-minute, 60-minute or 120-minute-plus slots featuring hilarious Japanese celebrities, they can be adjusted to fit different needs, providing endless opportunity for both sides.” For example, the hour-long Sokkuri Sweets format became the bite-sized series Eye Candy, streaming on The Roku Channel, as well as a mega-version of the series airing in prime time in the Netherlands as Showcolade. Mute it! also has a mega-version in prime time in the Netherlands under the title Stilte AUB! (Silence Please!).

“The strength of our game-show formats lies not only in their uniqueness and satisfaction guaranteed-ness, but also in our ability and flexibility to provide production expertise to ensure local success,” Shizawa says.