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Keishi Kandori Director, General Manager and Head of Technology Strategy Department
Media Platform Lab Co., Ltd. Developing interactive business through broadcasting and communication

----------It has been three years since the establishment of Media Platform Lab Co., Ltd. I have heard that the company will reach a milestone this April and would like to ask about the progress the company has made over the past years and what we aspire to accomplish in the future.

Three years is positioned as our company’s first milestone.
The name “Media Platform Lab” can be traced back to MIT when it established “Media Lab” on-campus in 1985. I participated in the launching of this laboratory. The concept at that time was a convergence of computers, telecommunications, and media. As this new organization was created, particular significance was accorded to the word “Platform” in between the words “Media Lab” as a place to research next-generation media.
The word “Media” used in the company name is not a conventional definition of the term, but refers to the “mass media” such as television, radio, and newspapers. Platforms refer to radio waves in the case of television and radio, but in this case includes all infrastructures which provide a connected environment (radio waves, optical fiber, metal).
Television and radio utilizes radio waves to transmit information from broadcasting stations to a wide audience simultaneously in real time. However, this information is transmitted one-way. The audience cannot simultaneously reply. A system which is the exact opposite of this is “telecommunications” represented by the telephone.
Currently, the internet has become pervasive and high-speed digital lines such as optical fiber infrastructure have become popular in the household. Mass media which had been one-way has shifted from broadcasting to new services such as “bidirectional services” utilizing new platforms.
The first three years since Media Platform Lab’s establishment has been invested toward the building of this infrastructure. We were able to embark on our first steps by establishing an infrastructure for radiko.jp.
The next step is building a business model utilizing this infrastructure.

----------I think the internet’s advantage is in its “bidirectionality,” but are you saying this isn’t necessarily the case where the relationship between media and the internet is concerned?

The internet is a merger between communications and computer technology. It is comprised of a system wherein a browser is used to search for information amassed in a virtual space connected through telecom, and communication tools represented by e-mail.
For television and radio broadcasts called mass media, attempts have begun to provide (merge) information via the internet (telecom), not via radio wave. Conventional broadcast has been enabled by the radio wave only. However, owing to the evolution of the internet environment, it has become possible to distribute vast amounts of audio and video data through streaming.
In thinking about a new business framework which shifts from a business model of advertising through broadcasts to providing broadcasting content over the internet, one of our company’s goals is to research a new profit structure which differs from internet web advertising.
About three years after establishment, we have finally arrived at the start point to consider our business. During the next three years, we will advance the development of a business model different from ground-based media broadcasting.

----------Internet-based business models such as Google and Yahoo are famous, but is the business model that Media Platform Lab aspires to different?

Web businesses such as Google and Yahoo are big successes. A Web business is a mechanism that provides a search engine for the voluminous information amassed on the internet and generates profits from the people and companies that link there. Until now, the internet has incorporated advertisement costs for newspapers, magazines, books, and radio, and is now close to doing the same for television. There has yet to be a business that has succeeded by utilizing media (broadcasting) on the Web.
Niconico and Youtube are successful cases of video content businesses that do not create their own contents, but rather allow users to search for and view videos from among the contents that they have amassed. Whether Google, Yahoo, Niconico, or Youtube, the main profit source is from advertisements. However, Web businesses understand that, with a Web business (advertisement-based business) which utilizes a keyword search, further expansion will be difficult. Therefore, a merger with media will become very important in the next stage.
For this purpose, it is first of all necessary to build a platform for distributing media content.
It is assumed that the reason why Facebook purchased WhatsApp, and Microsoft purchased Skype is because these telecom companies can serve as a platform base.
Even in Japan, in about three years from now, the media industry will undergo some kind of restructuring and a new business model will have been established. We are aimed at providing the business platform which meets the needs of the times.
In other words, Media Platform Lab creates platforms from the perspective of how “media (broadcasting industry)” will change.

----------Could you tell us about Media Platform Lab’s specific business model?

I will introduce one example of a new business model developed at “radiko.jp.” This is “Synchro Ad” which is a new business model utilizing “radiko.jp” functions, and a new service that only “radiko.jp” and our company can realize.
To explain the functions simply, a banner is dynamically displayed which is coupled with the commercial audio played back on the radiko.jp application screen. It is possible to induce traffic to banner ads by linking them to sponsor company websites and advertisement pages. This means that radio commercials limited to audio are displayed as banner ads on your cell phone and PC, and are linked to the internet with a single touch.

----------Does this mean that the time to cash-in on this business model has come?

Unfortunately, there are still many issues to resolve.
Synchro Ad is a new advertisement method that has just begun. Within the 60-year period since radio broadcasts began, it has been only two years since it was commercialized. In contrast to radio waves, the product framework can be easily created, although much research is still required to create a framework with product value.
As our business in “platform building” is in infrastructure, a preparation period of about three years will be required. Even if we take radiko.jp as an example, five years have already passed since its predecessor organization Internet Protocol Simulcast Radio was launched.
We have only now, at the third year of establishment, reached the starting point of one business model. We aspire to establish a business model which will see our profits rise over the next three years.
A business that can be developed using conventional technology and infrastructure will at last start as a new platform from April 2014.
A trial and error period will no doubt continue hereafter as well.

----------At Media Platform Lab, I have heard there are various projects other than projects related to radiko.jp in progress. Please tell us about one of these projects.

One service that has already begun is “All Songs Reporting Service.”
This service has an important meaning for our company’s business.
The issue of content rights is one factor for why a business which merges media (broadcasting) and the internet (telecom) does not succeed. When the delivery range differs from a broadcast range that can transmit radio waves, control of the contents distribution area is important technology for the internet. The All Songs Reporting Service, when distributing media over the internet, provides functions to automatically differentiate the content details and reports to right holders.

In FY2013, we attempted 4K content production.
As Web contents for the coming three years, 4K transmission will of course be indispensable. I believe that everything from high sound quality audio, to video streaming will change greatly.
While there is still very little 4K content, in three years time, it will be possible to display 4K content on multiscreen displays owned by ordinary individuals. However, as it will take three years to build a business platform, now is the starting point to make preparations.
In addition, content processing is troublesome with respect to video streaming, and trials are now being considered.
While we produced content this time, we are now planning to conduct successive trials regarding how to handle licensing, and the kind of transmission method to employ.

Among FY2013 development themes, there was “disaster prevention information.”
In mass media such as radio and television, weather, disaster, and traffic information are always incorporated into the contents for public broadcasting.
In this case, what will become of simultaneous transmission to the Web, such as with “radiko.jp”? We believe that such information provision over the internet is also an important technological development.br> There is a need to collect and provide the audience with weather and disaster prevention information for their current location, and public information such as the news, and we are thinking of providing this “system” as mass media over the internet. In Hyogo Prefecture disaster drills conducted on March 2014, we performed demonstration tests in cooperation with Radio Kansai.

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