Video Research Ltd. on Jan. 4, Nippon Television's two-day broadcast of the Hakone Ekiden earned average viewership ratings of 31.0% for the first day's broadcast from 7:00 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. on Jan. 2 and 33.7% for the second day from 7:00 a.m. to 2:18 p.m. on Jan. 3. Last year's broadcast earned ratings of 27.5% on the first day and 28.6% on the second. The two-day average of 32.3% for the broadcast was the highest ever recorded since measurement of ratings began in 1987.
To help reduce crowding along the course as part of the effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, this year's Hakone Ekiden encouraged people to "cheer from home." This is thought to have resulted in more people that usual watching the TV broadcast.
The peak instantaneous viewership rating on the first day of the race, 36.2% came at 1:01 p.m. during the fierce competition for 4th place between Tokai University and Teikyo University, and again at 1:28 p.m. during Soka University's finish and the battle for 2nd between Toyo University and Komazawa University. The second day's peak instantaneous viewership rating of 41.8% came at 1:33 p.m. when Toyo and Aoyama Gakuin University finished the anchor stage after dueling for 3rd late in the race.
According to Video Research's measurements, nationwide a total of roughly 64.71 million people tuned in for some part of the two-day broadcast, approximately half the national population. Viewers 4 years or older who tuned in for at least one minute were counted in the estimate.
The broadcast's producer Kohei Mochizuki commented, "To begin with I'd like to express my respect for everyone involved in holding and operating the event, and for all the athletes who gave us a spectacular race. I believe that the ratings this time were the result of people listening to requests to stay home and give their support by watching the broadcast instead of along the course. As the television broadcaster with exclusive rights to the Hakone Ekiden it was our mission to deliver the best program possible, as we do every year. In the lead-up to the 100th running three years from now, we will strive for an ever higher-quality broadcast production that prioritizes conveying all the passion and dedication of our student athletes."
Translator's note: More people watched the 2021 Hakone Ekiden than voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, although fewer than voted for Hillary Clinton.
translated and edited by Brett Larner