King of Japanese Satellite Television Smut
Matsunaga peers left through the glass window
of his Shinjuku office and into the adjacent administration
department. A small brown wooden Buddha statue
rests at the edge of his desk near his collection
of framed family photos.
With his black zippered jacket as sharp as his
Ray-Ban glasses, the 58-year-old then faces forward
and begins counting off the things that people
will pay substantial sums to watch on television.
"Movies," he says, folding his pinky
inward in typical Japanese fashion, "gambling,
sports…" He then pauses, his face
forming a grin.
After working for television production companies
for nearly three decades, the founder of 24-hour
porn broadcaster Paradise
TV realized that people do not pay real money
for simple documentaries or cooking shows.
"I started Paradise to make money,"
he laughs in summing up his motivation to launch
the porn channel that provides some of satellite
television's more - as he will gleefully
admit - "stupid" programming.
Sleaze on television hasn't been the same
since. Programming staples within the 60 to 70
different shows offered monthly have ranged from
naked English lessons to overly obese women having
sex to female virgins being deflowered live on
But Matsunaga's days in this business have
shown him that staying one step ahead of the competition
is vital. As a result, he hopes to soon be taking
the channel into new media outlets and expanding
its presence in the international market, and
of course continuing to deliver the silly sex
shows that his customers demand.
On satellite system SKY PerfecTV, Paradise today
boasts 40,000 subscribers (paying 2,100 yen per
month), a healthy 15 to 20% of the system's
adult market of over a dozen channels. Additional
customers receive its shows in Hawaii and Hong
Just getting started, though, was the result
of understanding the nature of the television
"The production business is like a bicycle,"
Matsunaga relates of his early days at Zippy Productions
(as the owner) and Tsuburaya (the producer of
Ultraman). "If we stop to pedaling, we'll
Rather than selling programs in one-shot deals
as a producer, Matsunaga wanted to continue riding
without pedaling. That meant obtaining the rights
to the programs as a broadcaster and showing them
repeatedly. So when the Japanese government liberated
the broadcasting market - allowing more licenses
to be issued - in the late '80s, Matsunaga
sensed an opportunity, and Paradise was born.
At first, the ability to procure content was
limited. Developing an access route for the purchase
of adult programming was extremely difficult given
the competition. Matsunaga then decided to produce
his own content, focusing on a niche that had
yet to be tapped: wacky smut.
"Our strength is in our originality,"
explains Kenichiro Suzuki, manager of international
sales, of their typical shows. "We specialize
in stupid programs and live programs that the
others cannot do."
In keeping with that philosophy, the April program
guide includes a documentary on a Kanagawa Prefecture
nurse who offers patients nighttime oral sex,
interviews with rookie brothel workers, and women
being solicited to sell their used underwear.
Attracting viewers, who Matsunaga generalizes
as being lonely guys without girlfriends, has
been anything but smooth. The competition simply
hasn't allowed it.
the first two years of the channel's existence,
the government phoned twice to register complaints
about Paradise's programming. Once it was
about a documentary on Tokyo prostitution; the
second time concerned a shopping program where
Paradise peddled vibrators and dildos. In both
cases, the government had received tapes of the
shows from Paradise's competitors. Matsunaga
says that the content was technically legal but
the government lowered its fist, which Matsunaga
says was equivalent to a "yellow card"
in soccer, anyway.
"Our competitors tried to pull out our
legs," he says.
But Matsunaga and his crew continued on. They
kept costs down by avoiding expensive, high-quality
adult video actresses and ensured that they knew
Matsunaga scoffs at competing adult companies
that provide multiple channels on SKY PerfecTV.
"I think they (the added channels) just
increase costs," he says, noting that while
the total number of SKY PerfecTV subscribers has
increased by a factor of three since Paradise's
launch in 1998, the increase in adult subscribers
has been significantly less. "Four or 5
years ago, a Paradise vice president suggested
to me that we add another channel. But I knew
the market would be the same, that sales would
be the same."
This tact has resulted in annual revenue of 1.1
billion yen from SKY PerfecTV with an additional
300 million yen coming in from the Paradise's
Web site and other various sales. Matsunaga forecasts
that in five years the combined total could reach
6 billion yen.
One way, Matsunaga predicts, to achieve this
goal will be through an increase in international
sales. American company Central Park Media, known
primarily for distributing animation and manga,
has agreed to release 2 to 3 subtitled DVD compilations
of Paradise content each month for the U.S. market.
As well, Paradise will begin sending its style
of programming to Japanese fans through their
mobile phones from June. Users will be able to
watch short (perhaps one-minute) videos on their
phone screens for a flat monthly fee of 480 yen
(plus any download charges levied by the provider).
A free option that includes advertising will be
offered as well. Matsunaga says that an example
clip might include a well-endowed woman extinguishing
a candle by flapping her breasts together with
the aid of her hands.
"We are always on the run," Matsunaga
emphasizes of his approach. "We always think
about what the customer wants. And we change to
the customer's needs."
Matsunaga, though, is on the run himself. Two
weeks ago he tendered his resignation as president
of Paradise to start Shinjuku Broadcasting News,
a subscriber-based new media outlet for Tokyo's
Shinjuku Ward that provides news via mobile phones,
the Internet, and field reporters.
Matsunaga is proud of his reign at Paradise,
with his legacy as founder of perhaps the most
"stupid" programming on the air firmly
He adds with a laugh: "That means I must
be very stupid myself."
Editor's note: this article was reprinted
with the kind permission of its author, Brett
Bull, from his great site Sake
Drenched Postcards. According to
the site, Freedom Lohr of TokyoDV
contributed to this report.
Photos from Sake Drenched
Postcards; doodle by John Schilling