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            International Business


                                           Robin L. M. Cheung
                                            Student #0024338
                                     Thursday, 28 March, 2002
                                            For Dr. J. Tiessen
                                          McMaster University
TV Asahi

Executiive Summary
Execut ve Summary
TV Asahi Theatrical Productions (Drama, 1996)
Starring       Kenji Sudo
               Yasu Kata
               Hidedata Nishmura

Produced by Kenji Sudo
Written by Patrick Woodcock and Paul Beamish.

Originally the brainchild of Hidedata Nishimura, TV Asahi Theatrical Productions, Inc. was
established to produce Broadway-style musicals with the intention of bringing blockbuster hits
back to Japan. Established in 1982, its Vice President, Kenji Sudo has managed to grow the
business to returning profits of $1.5 million on revenues of $15 million by 1993. This was
accomplished by producing such Tony® Award-winning musicals as ―Guys and Dolls‖ and ―The
Secret Garden.‖

Now that Nishimura has retired from the business, Kenji has found himself without
management support. As his contract precariously hangs in the balance, TV Asahi seems to pay
little attention to Kenji’s initiatives. Further, when his only connection to Japan, Yasu Kata,
plans to retire, he discovers his far-away parent company has no plans to replace the departing
Japanese Vice President. With his only connection to Japan and his only executive sponsor
gone, can Kenji save his company—and his job?

Perhaps TV Asahi’s focus on digital broadcasting, Kenji can muster financial support from his
Japanese superiors. Enticing them with the lucrative returns of Pay-Per-View™ subscriptions to
Broadway smash hit musicals, Kenji can ensure returns more than adequate given this risky
proposition. While Kenji’s risky New York escapades currently return only 6.2% on investment—
a measly 0.2 percentage points above the company’s overall ROE—incorporating Pay-Per-View
into his business model could help boost that number several times over.
TV Asahi

Originally conceived November 1, 1957, TV
Asahi began operations under the name Nippon
Educational Television Co., Ltd., on February 1,
1959. In the forty intervening years, this small
educational broadcaster has become one of the
main content providers in Japan, reaching over
97% of Japanese households. With a corporate
objective of becoming Japan’s ―top total
content provider,‖ TV Asahi faces a myriad
opportunities at the dawn of digital
convergence. With the recent insurgence of
digital ―pay-per-view‖ broadcast models, TV
Asahi has radically restructured its information content, providing ―entertainment-only‖
broadcasts during the late evenings and seeking high-profile and –return investments.

Established in 1982, TV Asahi Theatrical Productions was the sacred cow of TV Asahi’s number
two man, Hidedata Nishimura. Spawned by his fondness of western-style musicals and a hunch
that this format would prove popular to the Japanese, TV Asahi Theatrical Productions (TP) was
shared the mandate of its parent division, the Special Events Division (SED), of enhancing TV
Asahi’s image through event sponsorship. The SED had engaged in such diverse activities as
media content publishing, art exhibitions, and popular music shows, such as the mega rock
festival, Summer Sonic 2000, featuring over 30 rock and pop performers.

Through the strong leadership and networking of TP’s New York Vice President, Kenji Sudo, TV
Asahi brought such Tony® Award-winning Broadway musicals as ―Dreamgirls‖ and ―Guys and
Dolls‖ to Japan. With 1995 profits of $1.5 million on revenues of $15 million, TP was a minor
player in the TV Asahi Group, which realized net sales of over ¥225 billion in 2001 ($1.7 billion

                                The Probllem
                                The Prob em
                                 Due to Japanese mandatory retirement regulations, Nishimura
                                 left the company in 1996, leaving Kenji without a strong
                                 confederate on the ―inside‖ in the parent company. Sudo had
                                 been living in the US for 30 years and worked in TV Asahi’s New
                                 York location for 20. It was clear that his operations were
                                 distinct and alienated from headquarters in Japan. In fact, his
                                 only connection to head office was to have his musical
                                 contracts vetted. It was already apparent that without
                                 Nishimura’s strong push, TP was in danger of losing financial
                                 support; Kenji’s Japan counterpart, Yasu Kata, faced
                                 mandatory retirement and the parent had no plans to replace

By this time, Kenji had developed strong contacts in the close-knit theatrical circles and had
even been inducted as a voting member for the Tony® Awards. TV Asahi executives seemed
not to share Nishimura’s fondness for western musicals and did not understand western show-
business. While Disney Corporation continued to invest heavily in Broadway theatres and other
Japanese broadcasters ramped up their theatrical involvement, it seemed imminent that
Kenji’s efforts and accomplishments would fall to the wayside. Clearly, TV Asahi would have to
make a strategic decision about the future of its TP unit.
TV Asahi

Company Strategy
TV Asahi endeavours to become Japan’s top ―total content provider,‖ leveraging digital
terrestrial, satellite, and broadband technologies to take on the top Japanese broadcasters
head-to-head. The cover of its FY2001 Annual Report has only three bold words: ―Building
Shareholder Value.‖ These three words epitomize TV Asahi’s goal of maximizing shareholder
returns through seeking high-profile, high-return investments with relatively low risk.

Nadler and Tushman (1997) proposed a managerial decision-making model which considers such
external factors as environment and resources as well as internal factors, such as
organizational structure and culture to select alternatives congruent with the organization.

There’’s No Busiiness Liike Show Busiiness…
There s No Bus ness L ke Show Bus ness…
Cliques Abound
Indeed, TV Asahi Theatrical Productions faces unique challenges. The show
business culture is largely based on cliques and being on the ―inside.‖ Over
the years, Kenji had worked his way up to having excellent rapport with
theatre owners and directors. He was even inducted to be a voting
member of the Tony® Awards. This gave Kenji unique competencies in
bringing western musicals to Japan; however, his office comprised Kenji
and his assistant. No further successors have been trained or introduced to
this clique. Without Kenji, TP has nothing.

Meagre 6.2% average Return on Investment in FY93
Fundamental to every introductory finance course, the concept of risk and return is
emblazoned on every MBA’s report: risk and return should be positively correlated; that is,
high-risk investments should yield high returns in compensation. The dramatic theatre business
has proven itself to be diametrically opposite to this. The risk of producing any single show is
high—disdainful critics can shut down a show in less than a week. Yet the returns have been
meagre given this level of risk. Given an average cost of $8 million to bring a show to Japan,
the three shows Kenji brought to Japan in 1993 cost an estimated $24 million. Returning
profits of only $1.5 million, this represents a return on investment (ROI) of 6.2%. Given the
company’s overall FY2001 return on equity of 5.99%, this low return for such high risk is

Research Japanese Viewer Preferences
Given TP’s mandate of increasing TV Asahi’s awareness through theatrical events, it would be
best for TP to ascertain quantitatively the
nature of TV Asahi’s viewer preferences. TP
was Nishimura’s ―Sacred Cow,‖ spawned by his
own fondness for western musicals. This
preference may not be shared by the Japanese
populace enough to warrant producing

Sporting events and rock/pop music have
proven to be huge successes for TV Asahi in the
past. The US Open golf tournaments and FINA
World Swimming Championships 2001 returned
an impressive 40.6% audience rating. And
FY2001 investments in the Summer Sonic 2000
rock festival and other major popular events
with broad appeal brought returns of ¥12 billion.
TV Asahi

Focus on Wireless Content
With the industry’s shift from conventional content to broadband and wireless content, TV
Asahi has decided to pursue digital terrestrial and satellite content aggressively. One of the
major problems with signing contracts to televise a theatrical production has been that the
opportunity cost has been high given decreased demand for in-person performances after a
televised musical. This opportunity cost could be mitigated by televising musicals as a ―pay-
per-view‖ event.

A ternat ves
It is evident that in light of the departure of its President and Japanese Vice President, TP will
undergo significant changes. Kenji can either be in the driver’s seat or riding shotgun;
whatever the case, with his two main Japanese contacts gone and his contract up for renewal,
his future—and the future of TP—now precariously rest in the hands of his Japanese superiors.
Of particular importance in considering each alternative was their impact on shareholder value,
subscriber base, and on TV Asahi’s contribution to Japanese cultural nourishment.

The options available are as follows:

Do Nothing
TV Asahi could renew Kenji’s contract and deal with the issue next
Kenji’s performance has brought meagre returns given the level of
risk associated with theatrical production. Although renewing Kenji’s
contract as-is would provide little marginal benefit to shareholders,
it would provide some visibility to increase subscribers. Given TV
Asahi’s emphasis on the educational-entertainment (Edu-tainment)
segment, Broadway musicals are likely to appeal to this viewer
segment. Allowing Kenji to continue bringing Broadway musicals to
Japan would continue to ―give back‖ to society. Producing western
musicals, however, remains a risky business. With only 20% of all
projects expected to turn a profit, the overall expected monetary
value of all projects is expected to be negative. This would provide
little benefit to shareholder value.

Cancel Theatrical Productions Inc.
TV Asahi faces high risk investments with no risk premium on returns by producing Broadway
musicals. Taking into account expected monetary values based on a stochastic model, this
translates into negative net present value, or an internal rate of return lower than its base ROE
or even long-term riskfree securities. By canceling TP, TV Asahi could reassign Kenji to pursue
lower risk, higher return investments, such as pop stars or mainstream music groups having
wider appeal than Broadway musicals. Given that Kenji has proven himself an able salesman
and businessman, it is likely he would make a significant positive contribution to shareholder
value if he were reassigned to higher profile, higher return projects. His relationships in the
Broadway musical business would be considered a sunk cost. This has the drawback, however,
                       of a long lead-time for Kenji to break into the new show business.

                       Increase Funding to TP
                       Kenji currently enjoys 100% approval on his propositions in spite of his
                       meagre returns. Increasing funding to TP could increase the number of
                       Broadway musicals brought to Japan, resulting in a major ―giving back to
                       Japan‖ factor; however, it would have little impact on shareholder
                       value, since the expected returns would be only on par with current
                       ROE, with no risk premium. In fact, shareholders could view this to have
                       a negative impact.
TV Asahi

Switch Focus to London’s West End (UK)
Kenji is currently based in New York and focuses on Broadway musicals, he could transfer to
UK. Alternatively, TV Asahi could create a new spin-off in UK run in parallel with TP. This,
however, is not likely given the lack of management buy-in and the relatively low returns and
high risk of these investments. It would increase the ―give back‖ factor, but provide little
marginal shareholder returns and subscriber increase.

                      Increase Funding For Pay-Per-View Projects
                      Pay-per-view has become a proven formula in the digital terrestrial and
                      satellite broadcast industry. TV Asahi is aggressively pursuing the
                      satellite and terrestrial digital market. If Kenji can convince management
                      that he will bring Broadway musicals to Pay-Per-View™, it will garner
                      management buy-in. Pay-per-view will increase shareholder value
                      significantly, since unlike traditional broadcast television, each viewer
                      pays a fee for each performance. This would significantly increase
                      cultural enrichment, since it would make available Broadway musicals to
                      a large population while at the same time increasing TV Asahi awareness
                      through its production of live performances.

Mulltiicriiteriia Deciisiion Matriix
Mu t cr ter a Dec s on Matr x
TV Asahi should consider not only the most important criteria in deciding what action to take,
but also the relative importance of each criterion. Based on the FY2001 Annual Report, the top
three most important criteria were identified to be (in decreasing order) a. Increasing
shareholder value; b. Increasing subscriber base; and c. Contribution to Japanese society.
These primary objectives were given weights from 1 to 3.

     Criterion                                              Rationale
                                   As a publicly-traded company, TV Asahi’s main goals should
Shareholder Value         3        be to maximize return on shareholder value; that is, it
                                   should undertake projects with the highest returns on
                                   investment possible.
Increase subscriber
       base               2        Key to the broadcasting business is maximizing exposure to
                                   gain visibility and attract advertising spots.
                                   Unique to the Japanese culture, firms are expected not to
  Contribution to
     society              1        undertake projects that dishonour or bring shame to Japan;
                                   further, they are expected to pursue projects to nurture
                                   cultural enrichment.

Given these criteria, the various alternatives were evaluated systematically on a scale from 1
to 10 (detailed in Appendix II):
                       Shareholder       Subscriber Base    Contribution to
   Alternative                                                                   Overall Score
                        Value (3)               (2)            Society (1)
   Do Nothing               2                    3                  5                  22
    Cancel TP               5                    3                  3                  21
Increase Funding            2                    4                  7                  24
  Switch to UK              2                    3                  5                  22
                            7                    6                  6                  39
 Contingent Plan
TV Asahi

Recommendat ons
Aggressively Pursue Pay Per View™ Deals
It is clear that the most preferred course of action is to increase funding to TP contingent upon
offering Broadway musicals as a Pay-Per-View service. This is further congruent with TV
Asahi’s strong plans to launch satellite and digital terrestrial services and become Japan’s
foremost total content provider. TV Asahi should measure return on investment for the year.
If return on investment is not dramatically above the overall TV Asahi ROE, the TP program
should be abandoned and its resources reassigned to higher visibility, higher return projects.

Actiion Pllan
Act on P an
Garner Management Buy-In
Kenji must realize that his lack of proactive schmoozing with top Japanese executives over his
20-year career has earned him complacency. Now that Nishimura has retired, there is no
Japanese top executive to champion the program. Kenji must now convince TV Asahi to
continue to fund his program by outlining the tremendous gains to be had by leveraging the
digital network and pay-per-view technology to earn huge returns. Kenji must formulate this
plan and draw up pro forma income statements for this proposal immediately. Since he only
staffs a single assistant, this could be accomplished at low cost with an MBA intern.
TV Asahi

                                    Env ronment Resources H story
-       Reaches 97% of Japanese households             - Top four Japanese broadcaster
-       Theatre society very cliquish                  - Possible deregulation
-       Total FY2001 assets of ¥308 bn                 - Total FY2001 revenues of ¥225 bn

-       Clear differentiation of target lineup by time - One-year ―producer/director‖ contracts
-       Focus on informative entertainment               - Before-the-hour start times (get a jump)
-       Employ mid-career personnel                      - Acquire rights to sporting events

                                       Organiizatiionall Cullture
                                       Organ zat ona Cu ture
                                         - Ethnocentric
                                         - Originally
                                             conservative, now
                                             pursuing poignant
                                         - ―Old boy’s
                                             network‖ culture
                                             at home office in

      Competenc es                                                             Formall Organiizatiion
                                                                               Forma Organ zat on
    - Kenji a voting                                                              Arrangements
        member of Tony®                                                         - Network of 26
        Awards                                                                      affiliated stations
    - Satellite and                                                             - Committed to
        digital                                                                     sports events and
        technologies                                                                popular music
    - Content                                                                       publishing (high
        management                                                                  revenues, high
    -                                                                               exposure)
                                                                                - ―Giving back‖ to
                                                Tasks                               Japan

                                         -   Committed to
                                             Shareholder Value‖
                                             (Annual Report,
                                         -   Seek and provide
                                             total content to

                                          Outputs Ob ect ves
    -   Defend strong domestic position
    -   Seek high-profile, high-return investments with positive NPV and relatively lower risks

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