The History of NHK Programs for Young Children

A Group of Young Children’s Programs for Home Viewing Expanded from Okaasan to Issho (With Mother)

Published: January 2020

Okaasan to Issho (With Mother) was introduced on NHK General TV in 1959 as a TV series for young children aged two to four. NHK had started “programs for kindergartens and nursery schools” three years before that, in 1956, as part of its “school broadcast programs,” but With Mother was developed as a program “watched at home with parents” and focusing more on entertainment.

Initially, With Mother held a philosophy of “providing children with the best content” and invited successful external creators in diverse fields to form the foundation of the series. In 1979, a co–project was launched with a purpose of conducting research and surveys on the actual status of two–year–old children with experts, and many new segments in the program were developed based on factual data. Furthermore, the fruits of the research have been contributing to the production of subsequent young children’s programs. Since 1990s, the program’s materials have been actively utilized as secondary use at events and other occasions, which helped create a system to meet various needs of viewers through the content other than actual broadcasts. The accumulation of these efforts has seemingly led to the high evaluation of the series in recent years as “the most popular show” among preschoolers.

In the 1990s, NHK Educational Television (ETV) newly established “TV hours for mothers and young children” as a block programming to collectively schedule children’s programs in a given time slot, and programs with unconventional themes were developed one after another including Eigo de asobo (Let’s Play in English) and Inai inai baa (Peek–a–boo!). The development of these innovative programs for young children for home viewing are largely attributed to their precursor With Mother that had accumulated various insights and production know–how. “TV hours for mothers and young children” has increased the number of its group programs and takes hold of viewers.
Behind this was a strategy to get a full picture of target viewers’ trends by understanding the TV viewing behaviors of young children, which had not been grasped before, to reflect those findings on the block programming. Sixty years has passed since the launch of With Mother, and now NHK broadcasts diverse types of programs for young children. In addition to this, some of these programs are assuming a new role: they are watched not only by children but also by adults, attracting a wider range of viewers.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research

Koichiro Takahashi

in Japanese