Following your favorite artists, idols, and musicians when you are not in Japan can be kind of difficult, especially when there are few legitimate ways of staying updated and even things like YouTube channels may be region-blocked for whatever “reasons”. Here are some other streaming services which are often used by artists, idols, voice actors, and other celebrities to connect with their fans!
Details on the languages available on the sites or apps will be listed (Obviously, this does not mean that broadcasts will be automatically translated; that would be like magic.), the availability of login methods like Twitter or Facebook, related links, as well as pros and cons of each will be listed. YouTube has been left off this list as everyone should know about it after more than a decade of it being in service and oddly enough, it does not seem to be that widely used in Japan for live broadcasts.
SHOWROOM can be viewed on a computer and there is also a mobile app available for iOS and Android. In addition to being able to post comments, you can support whoever you are watching by giving them gifts ranging from stars (free) all the way up to Tokyo Tower (10,000 gold). While it was originally launched for idols, it now includes musicians, voice actors, comedians, athletes, regular everyday people, and even broadcasts live performances. While SHOWROOM does have their own studios, it is possible to broadcast from just about anywhere as long as one has a mobile device and Internet access. SHOWROOM received a big boost in 2016 as the members of the 48 groups began streaming en masse.
Sign in: Twitter, Facebook
Languages: Japanese, English, Chinese (traditional), Thai
Pros: Easy to use. Many broadcasters to choose from. Does not generally cost money to watch. Broadcasts stream around the clock.
Cons: May end up costing money if viewers become obsessed with sending gifts. There is always someone broadcasting!
SHOWROOM Official site: https://www.showroom-live.com/
SHOWROOM Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/SHOWROOM_jp
SHOWROOM Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/showroom_official/
SHOWROOM Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/showroom888
SHOWROOM Official blog: http://ameblo.jp/showroom-official/
SHOWROOM YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/denashowroom
In addition to it’s giant library of user created video content, Nico Nico is host to many live streams of concerts and events also, allowing comments from users to flash across the screen in real time (There is an option to turn them off as well). However, certain broadcasts will prioritize premium users and/or end their free broadcasts midway through an event. Premium membership, which costs 540 yen allows users to time shift live broadcasts once for a limited time after it has ended as well as giving priority and access to viewing.
Languages: Japanese, English, and Chinese (traditional)
Sign in: Twitter, Facebook, Nintendo Network, LINE, Google, yahoo.co.jp,
Pros: Most established platform and features a wide range of contents and broadcasters.
Cons: Requires logging in to view content. Some content requires premium membership. May be difficult to access from outside of Japan.
Nico Nico Official site: http://www.nicovideo.jp/
A live streaming service out of the popular LINE messaging application, it allows for anyone with an account to broadcast to anyone who is following or friends with them. Live performances, if archived, are accessible to watch after the broadcast has ended. There is a separate app for LINE LIVE but it is also common for users to have regular/daily broadcasts from their LINE account as well, similar to Twitcasting or Instagram Live Stories.
Language: Japanese, English, Korean, Thai, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese (traditional and simplified)
Pros: Integrated into LINE and viewable on desktop/laptop also.
Cons: Quality varies depending on broadcast production. Can be as simple as a single camera/mobile device in portrait mode to a multiple camera edit.
Line Live Official site: https://live.line.me/
Instagram Live Stories
Building off Instagram’s Stories feature, anyone with an account can begin a live broadcast to their followers with a swipe. During the broadcast, viewers can post comments and give hearts, which are free. Because this is a feature of Instagram, very little seems to be different. Although it is possible to log in, comment, and like pictures/video on your feed via laptop/desktop, it seems that Live Stories is only available on mobile devices.
Language: All languages available on Instagram
Sign in: Instagram
Pros: Integrated into Instagram. Easy and free to watch/broadcast.
Cons: Only available on mobile. One hour time limit.
In addition to posting daily photoshoots with idols and gravure models, LoGirl broadcasts live web programs featuring groups like Momoiro Clover Z, Sakura Gakuin, Dempagumi.inc, PASSPO☆, AKB48 Team 8, and Silent Siren. While there are some free programs, it seems that the programs with the bigger names is reserved for their LoGiRL Prego (800 yen) paid service.
Sign in: Twitter, Facebook
Pros: Popular groups/artists appear regularly. Daily gravure/idol photoshoots. Interviews with artists/idols.
Cons: Only in Japanese. Limited broadcast schedule. Subscription necessary to access all contents. No mobile app for viewing.
LoGirl Official site: https://logirl.favclip.com/
LoGirl Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/logirl2015
A service which allows people to watch as well as broadcast from their mobile devices, Twitcasting uses a lot less bandwidth than other streaming platforms. While this allows for mobile broadcasting, depending on the situation, it can also mean less than ideal video quality. Viewers earn points for every day they tune in to a broadcast and those points can be used for coins which are used to keep the broadcast going. Coins and other gifts will flash across the screen along with the screen name of the giver. When using one’s Twitter account to sign in to Twitcasting, any comments posted will also appear as tweets, along with a link to the video.
Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese
Sign in: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Pros: Broadcasts can happen just about anywhere. Possible to give coins and other gifts with points earned by tuning in.
Cons: Video quality is lower than other services.
Twitcasting Official site: http://twitcasting.tv/
Broadcasting idol content 24 hours a day on several different platforms, this “idol channel that shows too much” (misesugi aidoru channeru, 見せすぎアイドルチャンネル) from Okinawa features former NMB48 members Nana Yamada and Riho Miaki as hosts of several programs. Groups like NMB48, PASSPO☆, Niji no Conquistador, Babyraids JAPAN, and Magical Punchline regularly appear. Even though Kawaiian TV has a YouTube channel, most of their content requires a Japanese cable (Sky Perfect TV or J:COM) subscription or users to pay a monthly fee (540 yen) to watch on Nico Nama or GYAO (not available outside of Japan).
Sign in: Nico Nico, GYAO/Yahoo Japan
Pros: Popular groups/artists appear regularly. Idol content 24 hours a day!
Cons: Requires Japanese cable subscription or separate subscription for Nico Nama or GYAO.
Kawaiian TV Official site: http://www.kawaiian.tv/
Kawaiian TV Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/KawaiianTV
Kawaiian TV Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kawaiiantv/
Kawaiian TV Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KawaiianTV-458558310958022/
Kawaiian TV YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/kawaiiantv
Launched in 2016, Abema TV and Fresh! by cyberagent are streaming services with many channels, featuring news, sports, drama, and live shows/concerts. Viewers can watch broadcasts on their desktop/laptop or mobile device but, it seems that it is currently limited only to Japan. Past broadcasts are uploaded to the Abema YouTube channel but seem to be removed after a limited time.
Sign in: Twitter, Facebook, Google, Ameba
Pros: Lots of content from many different genres.
Cons: Region-locked. Broadcasts that run beyond their allotted time slot may be ended in order for previously scheduled programs that begin on the same channel. Difficult to navigate/search.
Abema TV Official site: https://abema.tv/
Abema TV Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/AbemaTV
Fresh! by cyberagent Official site: https://freshlive.tv/
Fresh! by cyberagent Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/FRESH_STAFF
Abema YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLsdm7nCJCVTWSid7G_f0Pg
Formerly known as Kimi Dake, this app brought to you by mixi allows one on one chats between fans and idols, artists, and seiyuu for a price. The name is a combination of the words “kimi” (君, you) and “dream”. Users can reserve time and then pay for their slot(s) when the time of broadcast arrives. As kimi dori provides a private interaction between fans and idols, there are no screenshots available, just the over the top promotional video shown above.
Sign in: Twitter
Pros: Allows for individual or group conversations with artists, increasing interaction between both parties.
Cons: Can become expensive.
kimi dori Official site: https://kimidori.live/guide
kimi dori Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimidori_mixi
kimi dori YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi68BRkbhB2YqWxdqrZ4pXg
How many of the services mentioned were you familiar with? Which ones seem like something you would want to use/watch?
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