Last week we reported that BS8K would be making history on November 7th when they show the WBSS final between Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26). Today they gave that announcement a follow up, revealing that the bout will be watchable on a huge public screen at NHK Osaka.
The NHK Osaka Atrium will show the bout on a huge screen, that's over 200" in size, with 200 seats reportedly set aside for fans wanting to watch, as well standing space. Whilst the screening is free places will be limited.
The Atrium, which usually closes at 9PM will remain open until the bout ends.
The venue has been used to sport in the past, but this is the first time boxing has been shown in 8K there and it's clear that NHK really are serious about showing off what the technology can do and the quality it provides.
For those interested in this details can be found here.
Related - The WBSS Final - Inoue Vs Donaire
Earlier today NHK announced that their 8K sister channel, BS8K, would be showing two upcoming bouts.
One of those will be the WBSS Bantamweight final between Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26), on November 7th, which will be the first ever boxing fight shown live in 8K. The second comes in December, when they air the WBA "regular" Middleweight title bout, between champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24).
Whilst that is great news, seeing boxing shown in 8K, the other news that NHK revealed was much more interesting, and wider reaching.
That was the announcement that from 2020 they would be back in the boxing game properly!
The broadcaster showed the likes of Yoshio Shirai and Fighting Harada and first aired boxing back in September 1953, though saw a decline in their conenction with the sport due to the rise of commercial broadcasters. As a result they pretty much away from broadcasting the sport live almost 60 years, with sources in Japan widely reporting the last boxing to be aired on NHK was a tape delay broadcast in 1987!
The change is down to one of their top producers, who has been involved in other sports on the broadcaster, wanting to bring the sport back in to the fold. With the first part of plan being for their two 8K shows before plans to do more boxing in the future.
The aforementioned producer told the press that "Naoya Inoue and Ryota Murata are rare athletes that exceed the limits of normal boxers. NHK, who had been moving away from professional boxing for nearly 60 years... " before adding "BS8K has just started broadcasting in cooperation with Fuji TV" (which will be broadcast on terrestrial TV).
Although the only confirmed announcements are bouts being aired on BS8K, at least one media source in Japan has stated the longer term plan is to bring back to terrestrial NHK in the future. With the Tokyo 2020 games taking place next year then channel appears to be the place to go for an Olympic medal winner, given the broadcasters massive reach in the country, with many of the highest viewed shows coming on NHK.
It would seem almost certain that the broadcaster would be making offers to successful fighters from the Olympics, and we would be amazed if we don't see several big name Japanese amateurs sign up with NHK and make their pro debuts in late 2020 or early 2021.
For those unaware NHK are the Japanese equivalent to the BBC. They are the they are the public broadcaster, paid for by a license fee. In total they run 6 domestic TV channels, including ultra-high-definition channels BS8K and BS4K, as well as two terrestrial channels, NHK General and NHK Educational, as well as some international channels including NHK World. Unlike other channels in Japan they are not part of a network, and instead have nationwide coverage, giving them a potentially huge reach for viewers across the country.
Although this might not be big news in the west it's arguably the most significant change in boxing broadcaster in over 30 years, and if NHK go all in on boxing it's hard to see anything but a huge boom for the sport in the country in the coming years.
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