10, 05. 2006
The audience ratings for the broadcasting by Nippon Television Network Corp. of baseball games played by the Giants are going down, endangering the business operation of the Giants team owner itself. Such broadcasting has been beaten nine times consecutively in ratings by a program televised by TV Tokyo Corp. The fee for broadcasting rights for games played by the Giants is said to run around 200 million yen per game. But the price is dropping, and the broadcasting of many of the games has been cancelled.
There was an incident that symbolized the poor showing of the audience ratings for the Giants games. According to a survey by Video Research Ltd., “Good Excursion--an Ecstasy,” a program televised from 8 p.m. on Wednesdays by TV Tokyo won an audience rating of 13% on May 24, beating the broadcasting of a Giants game. Since then the TV Tokyo program had always defeated Giant games until the third week of August, when it won a 10.7% rating and marked the ninth straight win against the telecasting of the game of Giants vs. Yakult Swallows which at gained a rating of 5.2%.
Audience Rating of 15% is Minimum Requirement to Make Profit
Giants games lost in ratings nine consecutive rounds to TV Tokyo.
On the outstanding achievement of garnering the high ratings, a TV Tokyo official told J-CAST with a smile on face: “We did not have the Giants games on mind, we are pleased our program was accepted as a good and honest production.” A Nippon Television official, on the other hand, said brusquely, “Comment? Not particularly.” Both the Giants games and the TV Tokyo programs were televised during the prime viewing time. It seems to be a considerable humiliation to Nippon Television that the TV Tokyo program whose production cost was only abut one fifth of that of the telecasting of the games had gained higher ratings on nine occasions consecutively.
During the week when the televising of the Giants games suffered the ninth consecutive defeat in ratings, the rematch between the Komadai Tomakomai and Waseda Jitsugyo high school baseball teams after they drew in the final of the summer high school baseball tournament at Koshien stadium was also televised. For this, NHK received a rating of 29.1%. Adding the audience ratings for the televising of the same game by TV Asahi (4.6%) and NHK’s satellite broadcasting BS2, the rating was higher than 30%. This followed the rating of 43.4% for the broadcasting of the final match of Japan vs. Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, indicating that the popularity for the watching of baseball games remained high among the TV viewers.
Because of the dwindling ratings for the televising of Giants baseball games in August, Fuji Television announced the cancellation of broadcasting all such games from then on. Nippon Television in the Yomiuri group also called off the televising of the game between Giants and Hiroshima in that month, and TV Asahi followed suit. Even Nippon Television was reportedly ready to quit the telecasting. This trend is seen to recur next season.
How much does it take to televise Giants games? Sadahiko Sugaya, President of TV Tokyo says, “We bought the broadcasting right for 100 million yen per game on the supposition that we can get an audience rating of 15%. The production cost was 13 million yen. But CM fees we could get totalled only 50 million yen.” The rating was 5.5%. The company would lose money unless it earned the CM fees of more than 113 million yen. To achieve this, the ratings have to be at least 15%.
High CM Unit-Cost Payers, such as Automakers and Communications Companies Don’t Sponsor Giants Baseball Broadcasting
A survey on individual audience ratings shows that the people who watch televised baseball matches involving the Giants are mainly in the M3 group (men older than 50). The commercial sponsors for the M3 group are usually the makers of such products as the denture adhesive cream, adult diapers and simple meals. Thus the payers of high CM unit cost, such as automakers and communications companies don’t buy time for CM in baseball telecasting. Other good advertisers reportedly stopped sponsoring.
The declining ratings for the televising of the Giants baseball games also overshadowed the account settlements for the first quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year of four of the five key private broadcasting companies in Tokyo. Nippon Television, which broadcast the Giants baseball games more often than the others, reported a sales decline of 0.9% for the quarter to 86,100 million yen from a year earlier. A reason for this decline was that the audience ratings for the Giants game broadcasting dipped below the 10% level in June.
Regarding the revenues from the ticket sales at baseball stadiums, the number of viewers during the first half of this year decreased only 0.5% from the corresponding period of last year. The truth, however, is that free tickets were given away right after the season started. The weekly magazine AERA predicts that Yomiuri Giants Co. will incur losses next season if the fees for broadcasting rights and ticket sales decrease 30% on supposition that it costs the company 15 billion yen to manage the baseball team.
Can the Giants survive? “It used to be a matter of course for the Giants baseball matches to gain the audience ratings of 20%, but they have now become luggage to the team owner. Only way to survive is to call back Matsui and other players, who have gone to the Major League. The sponsors of the commercials are now becoming likely to switch their sponsoring to the televising of the Major League games here,” a reporter assigned to the Giants games said hopelessly.