David Blecken
Oct 16, 2015

BBC launches Japanese-language website in first fully commercial venture

TOKYO - The BBC has launched its first fully commercially funded non-English-language news website—in Japanese.

BBC has operated its World News service in Japan for 20 years
BBC has operated its World News service in Japan for 20 years

According to a statement from the BBC, BBC.jp will offer a range of business, entertainment and technology stories alongside news, analysis and features, comprised of selected items from BBC.com translated into Japanese.

Upon completion of the commercial rollout, advertisers will “have the potential to reach 132 million browsers across the BBC’s digital international news offering”, the statement said. Advertising formats include leaderboard and MPU. Pre-roll is available on the BBC's English-language site.

Phoebe Price, a spokesperson from the BBC, explained that the BBC’s Tokyo-based editors would curate and translate an assortment of text and video content deemed most relevant and interesting to a Japanese audience. This will combine international news with features and analysis of stories with global and Japan-specific implications.

Price said that Japan had been an important market for the organisation for a long time and that “we feel we can offer something fresh and new”, providing Japanese audiences with easier access to “stories of global importance”.

“We’ve been offering BBC World News for 20 years in this market and we know there is huge demand for digital content in Japanese. Now we have created a brand new, first-class digital offering that matches the quality of World News Japan within this competitive marketplace, allowing consumers to access in their own language the high quality, trustworthy news that the BBC is renowned for.”

Ali Cowe, head of communications for BBC's Global News, said a translated digital offering for the market had become increasingly important. "In Japan, one in three people cite online as their main source of news and our English language website BBC.com gets over 8 million page views a month there," Cowe said. "This has grown year-on-year, so we know there's an appetite for impartial online news in English but translating it into the local language will give it even greater appeal."

Cowe said the BBC wanted to offer advertisers the opportunity to reach readers in the "business elite" category in their own language. Cowe did not comment on clients but said advertising sales representatives were educating potential ones as to the offering. "Now the site is live and being populated on a regular basis we expect to start showing ads in due course." 

Existing commercial news products include the TV channel BBC World News, an international BBC News app and BBC.com. The BBC World Service’s websites, which operate in 28 languages, also carry advertising. The BBC also recently launched a content marketing division, BBC StoryWorks.

Editor's note: This article was updated on 19 October to include comments from Ali Cowe and information regarding advertising formats.

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