The popularity of MMA in Japan continues to decline. The sport seemed on top of the world in Japan during the days of PRIDE. Even though there are many similarities between today’s top Japanese MMA organizations and PRIDE, there is something amiss.
This fact was shown no more clearly than it was on what should have been MMA’s biggest night of the year in Japan, the New Year’s Eve Dynamite!! event.
Here is a report on the television ratings for this year’s Dynamite!! card. Here are the numbers broken down into three parts:
1. Time: 7:00 – 9:00 Rating 11.8%
2. Time: 9:00 – 11:00 Rating 12.9%
3. Time: 11:00 – 11:24 Rating 8.4%
Before the event, FEG president Sadaharu Tanikawa said that they wished to earn a 15% or better rating. Clearly they did not meet their goal. Perhaps the most disturbing news is the extremely low rating for the final half hour of the card. During this portion of the card most of the big name fighters took to the ring, including the main event between Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura.
The timeslot that received the highest rating contained the “freakshow” fight between Bob Sapp and Anime character, Kinniku Mantaro, who was actually Akihito Tanaka in disguise. The numbers have to be a headache for FEG considering that a fight of such low caliber garnered more viewers than their star attractions.
To make matters worse, these ratings are lower than last year’s Dynamite!! Show. The first and third portions of the 2007 show earned 11.1% while the second part earned a 14.7%. Those ratings themselves were a significant drop from the previous year’s ratings. Could this be a sign of the decline in popularity of the sport in Japan?
On the brighter side for FEG, the show did best two other sports entertainment events on New Year’s Eve. A boxing match featuring Japanese star Takefumi Sakata drew only a 9.0% rating, while Hustle Mania, a pro wrestling show, pulled only a 3.4% rating.
Despite the small victory, surely FEG will have to figure out a way to draw more viewers for their future MMA and K-1 cards.
Props: Nightmare of Battle