On New Year's Eve we were lucky enough to see an instant classic to end the year, with WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] scoring an 8th round TKO over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成].
The bout was a spectacular one and was shown across Japan via TBS and affiliates, as well as Paravi, as well as being shown across the world on services like Boxnation, Fox Sports Australia and ESPN in Latin America.
Today the Japanese TV viewing rate for the show, on TBS and MBS, was released. Those are the figures for the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama, as well as the Kansai region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo.
The average viewers for the Kanto region was 10.3% whilst the number in Kansai was 10.4%.
Sadly the peak figures for the two regions haven't been reported as of yet. Neither have the other regions the bout was shown in, such as Chubu and Tohoku.
Whilst it's not accurate to turn that viewing figure into a raw number, we do need to add that seems likely that these numbers do translate in to a multi-million viewership. The numbers don't correlate directly to the local population but the Kanto region, back in 2010, had more than 42,000,000 people living there, whilst Kansai had 22,000,000 according to the 2010 census.
For comparison RIZIN, which aired on the same day on Fuji TV, had it's best part averaging 7.3%.
Whilst many in the West assumed that Tanaka was the star, it does need to be noted that in Japan Ioka is the bigger name, and was before this fight. That can be seen quite clearly if we go back to the end of 2019 where Ioka Vs Cintron drew an average of 9.4% in Kanto whilst Tanaka's bout against Wulan Tuolehazi drew 6.1%.
For those curious Japan uses the Video Research Ltd for it's TV audience measurement, like BARB in the UK and Nielsen in Japan. This is a company partially owned by advertising giant Dentsu.
This past weekend we saw WBA "Super", IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] retain his titles with a 7th round win over stubborn Australian Jason Moloney (21-2, 18), who really did show incredible toughness.
If you were watching in the US you got it live on ESPN+, if you were in a number of other territories you could get it live on FITE TV. In Japan however the bout was shown twice.
The first broadcasting in Japan was live on premium TV channel WOWOW, a channel that is somewhat similar to HBO or Showtime in the US. It's a premium subscription service, that combines high level content, such as movies and live sport.
The second, and more interesting broadcast, was on Fuji TV, a free to air channel in the Kanto region. It's Fuji TV that have backed Inoue heavily since his third professional bout and is a terrestrial channel, for our UK viewers think of it as ITV or channel 4. Although it was free on Fuji TV it wasn't live. Instead it was on tape delay around 12 hours after the original broadcasting. This meant it had a prime time slot on one of the biggest free to air channels in Japan.
Despite the tape delay the bout has been an instant rating success. In Kanto the bout got an average audience of 10.6%. That number is genuinely insane for a bout on tape delay, and is a massive increase on what Fuji have been showing in the same time slot.
The last 4 week average for Fuji in that same time slot has been 5.9%, giving this an increase of almost 5% over those recent weeks.
Notable this isn't a one off. Other Inoue bouts shown on tape delay have also drawn huge numbers, such as his bout with his bout against Emmanuel Rodriguez also drawing over 10% on tape delay.
Whilst it is a lower number that those that tuned in for Inoue's 2019 clash with Nonito Donaire, which was shown live on Fuji TV and NHK BS8K, it is still a number that genuinely dwarves numbers typically seen in the US and the UK.
Interestingly the numbers for the free "replay" almost seem to suggest that a bout could work on both pay and free TV. It would be interesting to see a channel in the UK try something similar, potentially using one of their biggest stars to test. For example if Sky Sports put Anthony Joshua's next fight on PPV and then given BBC the chance to show it for free a week later. Whilst it could bite into the PPV audience figure we suspect those who want to watch it live would still pay, and those who haven't got Sky, or aren't too familiar with boxing, would be won over by seeing Joshua in action and perhaps buy in for a future fight. It would be huge a huge chance to showcase the nations boxing star to the wider nation.
Given the huge numbers who watched Inoue, many of whom would have known the outcome, it appears, at least to some extent, boxing can still draw an audience even if it's not live. With that in mind this model is one we expect to see continue for every Inoue fight outside of Japan, and with a loyal and growing fan base this seems like the ideal compromise between pay tv and free tv for boxing.
On New Year's Eve we got the annual Year ending show, featuring WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who defended his title in a mandatory defense against Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5).
Today, after around a week of waiting, the ratings for that were announced, and once again we saw strong evidence that Ioka is among the most popular fighters in Japan, with very impressive numbers for the 4-weight world champion.
The figures, which we've only got for the Kanto region, saw an average audience rating of 9.4% with a peak audience of 11.6%.
As a raw figure that gives an estimated average audience of 3,900,000 and a peak figure of over 4,750,000.
Another notable figure was that of WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], who stopped Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6) [乌兰] in 3 rounds in their bout. This fight pulled an average of 6.1%, which gives a figure of around 2,500,000 viewers.
Although Ioka and Tanaka weren't in with the most well known of opponents those numbers surely will please TBS, who essentially smashed the figures that RIZIN got on rival channel Fuji TV on the same day, showing how much of a draw Ioka still is.
The raw audience are estimated numbers based on the audience rating, they aren't confirmed figures but are a ball park number, in this case for the Kanto region only.
(Image courtesy of A.McGovern)
Yesterday in Yokohama Japanese superstar Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] retained the WBA "regular" Middleweight title, as he eventually broke down and stopped Canadian puncher Steven Butler (28-2-1, 24). Today the TV ratings for the bout came out, and they were impressive numbers.
The bout averaged 12.2% in the Kanto region, the biggest market in Japan which includes places like Tokyo and Yokohama, and 13.4% in the Kansai region, which has places like Osaka. Both are reportedly peaked highly, with Kanto peaking at 15.5%.
To put that into an estimated raw audience figure, that would be an average of around 5,300,000 in Kanto and just over 3,000,000 from the Kansai region. Giving the bout an average figure of around 8,300,000. The peak on Kanto alone was almost 6,750,000.
The figures for Kanto are an increase on Murata's previous bout, which draw an average of 11.9% in the region and peaked at 14.9%.
The figures for the Kanto region were also provided for the IBF Flyweight title bout between Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] and IBF champion Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26). This fight averaged 8.6% in Kanto and peaked at 10.6% in the region.
This gives a raw average of an estimated 3,700,000 and a peak of over 4,500,000
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It should be noted that the viewership numbers, as opposed to viewing percentage, are estimates, and there is a lot more to accurately getting the numbers than simply running the population numbers through the viewership % but they do work as a ball park figure as raw numbers aren't provided in Japan.
Yesterday's sensational bout between Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) has been widely described as one of the best fights of the year. The WBSS final that many though was going to be a mismatch, including ourselves, ended up being something very special, and that was shown not only in the ring but outside of it too.
It was, as previously reported, the first fight ever shown live in 8K and it was also a bout that did incredible numbers on terrestrial TV.
At the time of writing numbers for the second biggest region in Japan, the Kansai region who had the bout on Kansai TV, haven't been made available but the Fuji TV figures, for the Kanto region, have been released and they are impressive to say the least.
The average viewing figure from the Kanto region was 15.2% whilst the peak number from the region was 20.5%.
To put those numbers into estimates of the population, the average figure was around 6.5 million with a peak of approximately 8.7 million.
When Kansai's figures are added in, and Kansai's viewing rates do tend to be higher than that of Kanto, we would expect the average to be bumped to over 8 million and the peak to have been pushed over 12 million, though of course no numbers have been reported for the region, which includes Osaka.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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