Olympic-size draw

Japanese mettle in medaling drawing auds

TOKYO — Japanese judo, soccer and baseball have led to ratings power for the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the world’s second-largest TV market.

Strong showings from Japanese athletes has led to solid ratings for the Olympics as primetime broadcasts of judo and soccer have reached over 40% audience share while primetime broadcasts of the two sports at Atlanta in 1996 only reached between 11% and 19%, respectively.

The two-hour time difference between Japan and Sydney has helped with the ratings, but so has Japan’s athletic prowess. Last Saturday night’s judo match that saw Ryoko Tamura win the women’s gold for Japan helped push the combined ratings for the event to 50%; pubcaster NHK scored 31% and commercial net TBS had 19% as both covered the event live.

Getting their kicks

The Japanese men’s soccer qualifying match against Slovakia hit ratings of 40%, while the Sunday morning broadcast of Japan vs. the U.S. hit 32%.

Japanese pubcaster NHK has local rights to all Olympic events while the commercial networks can land rights — sometimes with simultaneous broadcasts with NHK — to some of the bigger events such as soccer, baseball and track and field.

According to ratings agency Video Research, the biggest event for Japan at the Atlanta games was the women’s marathon, which hit a ratings mark of 43% for a live, primetime broadcast.

Local broadcast officials said the women’s marathon, track and field sprint finals, and appearances of the Japanese men’s soccer and baseball teams (if the squads make it through the qualifying rounds) in a medals tournament should also eclipse the 40% plateau.

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