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.
In recent weeks we've seen YouTube become the outlet of choice Japanese fights, with BOXING REAL and A-Sign Boxing being great for fight fans wanting to follow the Japanese scene. It appears that YouTube will continue to be a major outlet in coming months, with BOXING REAL streaming a Shinsei card in September, Suruga Boys streaming their September card, Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] streaming his bout with Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12), and TV Osaka streaming the Taisei Promoted "From the World to Mita 16" event on November 23rd.
Despite YouTube becoming a major outlet for Japanese fights we do still have TV channels in the country and today we saw announcements of two channels set to show come boxing in the coming months!
The first of the broadcasts will be a live broadcast on subscription service WOWOW, of the WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight title bout between Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Jason Moloney (21-1, 18). This is set to be aired on WOWOW Prime from 10:30AM in Japan on November 1st.
At the moment there hasn't been an announced tape delay airing, though it's assumed that Fuji TV will carry the bout in full on terrestrial TV, potential with same day delay during prime time. This has been the case with some international bouts of Fuji fighters and we suspect it'll continue here.
The second bit of TV news is that TBS will broadcast the bout between former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] and the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4) [堤聖也]. The bout will take place on October 26th at Korakuen Hall, but will sadly not be aired until November 18th as part of the "Guts Fighting" series. We suspect that broadcast will also be used to hype up a potential December TBS show.
Whilst we're on the subject of televised boxing in Japan it's worth adding that Japanese pay TV channel G+ will be broadcasting two shows that take place in October.
On October 3rd they will be broadcasting a live card headlined by Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信], who will be defending his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人], with this broadcast set to run from 17:45 to 22:00 local time.
On October 5th they will then broadcast the Teiken promoted card headlined by a bout between Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] and Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏]. This card, originally scheduled for September, will take place on October 2nd and will be on tape delay. This will be broadcast between 17:00 and 22:00 local time.
Both of those will then get re-shown through the month, with the Teiken show set to be re-shown on October 12th and the other card being rebroadcast on October 19th.
Fans of Japanese boxing haven't had it this good in years!
Earlier today Japanese premium TV provider WOWOW announced that they would be airing the exhibition bout between former American boxing stars Mike Tyson (50-6-0-2, 44) and Roy Jones Jr (66-9, 47) live as part of their long running "Excite Match" series.
WOWOW, who are the main outlet for international fights in Japan, had stated they would would be airing the event live on September 13th, local time, from 11am. Though now reports have circulated that the exhibition is being delayed to November meaning WOWOW will be changing that when confirmation of the new date is made.
The bout is set to be aired on PPV in various Western regions and so for Western fans who just want to enjoy the bout and not pay the hefty price of a PPV, it could be worth looking into a monthly subscription of a service like Isakura to watch the bout live, and enjoy some other Japanese content during the relevant month. Given the bout is expected to be given a late November date when it's rescheduled a 3-subscription to a Japanese TV streaming app count end up getting you this bout, and the End of Year Japanese cards for the price of a PPV in the west.
The channel, which often shows big American and UK cards on delay, is set to have the likes of Joe Koizumi and Hozumi Hasegawa working in the studio for the bout.
Notably this event was being shown live, though many of the other upcoming Western shows WOWOW are airing are tape delay events. For example next week they are showing the Andrew Moloney Vs Joshua Franco and Jason Moloney Vs Leonardo Baez fights from way back in June. They also have no other bouts listed as being "live" on their schedule, a real shame given the lack of live televised domestic action in Japan right now.
Earlier today Japanese pay TV service WOWOW announced that they would be airing the much anticipated Bantamweight triple title unification bout between Japanese star Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Filipino puncher John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20) live!
The men, who clash to unify the WBA "Super", IBF and WBO titles, will be fighting in Las Vegas in one of the biggest Bantamweight bouts in years, and will see Inoue trying to build on 2019 Fight of the Year with Nonito Donaire, and will see Casimero looking to build on his upset win over Zolani Tete.
WOWOW have revealed their broadcast will begin at 11am local time on Sunday April 26th on their WOWOW Prime channel, whilst ESPN will be broadcasting in the US.
In the build up WOWOW will also show "Las Vegas decisive battle finally! "Naoya Inoue" Road to the Strongest Champion" which will be aired at 2PM local time on Sunday 29th of March.
Although it's yet to be confirmed it's expected that Fuji TV will then show the bout on tape delay for those without a WOWOW subscription. What also hasn't been confirmed is who the broadcast team will be, though suspicion is it will feature Ryota Murata who has often worked for WOWOW on their biggest recent broadcasts.
Back in April we saw the news of a double header in China featuring WBA "regular" Featherweight title by Can Xu (16-2, 2) [徐灿] defending his title against Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) [久保隼] and former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11) [木村翔] challenging WBA Light Flyweight "regular" champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17). The card is a really good one, and one of the ones to be excited about this weekend.
Surprisingly the bouts aren't being shown live in Japan, despite two world title bouts featuring Japanese fighters, unless you're a member of WOWOW Members on Demand service. WOWOW's scheduled broadcast is set for 8PM on Monday June 3rd, with a replay a few days later.
Thankfully Chinese TV should have us covered, with CCTV5 showing the bouts live from 21:40 local time, with almost 2 hours set aside for the bouts. It appears that CCTV5 will only be showing the world title bouts, an not the under-card.
As for an online Chinese distributor, it appears that QQ are pencilled in to begin their broadcast from 19:30 local time, which likely would include the under-card bouts, as well as the main event bouts.
Will Xu be successful in first defense as he takes on Kubo?
Canizales and Kimura battle for gold in China!
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