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Drug test failures draw no Japanese media attention

By Zach Arnold | October 27, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

When news broke that both Vitor Belfort & Pawel Nastula apparently failed the NSAC-sanctioned drug tests, it was certainly a story with some traction on the various English MMA web sites.

However, the story is a completely different one in regards to the Japanese press.

None of the major Japanese sports newspapers (Sankei Sports, Sports Nippon, Nikkan Sports, Yomiuri Hochi, and Daily Sports) discussed the failed drug tests. Both the Sports Navigator & PRIDE Japanese HP sites online had no mention of the failed tests, either.

Theoretically speaking, if bigger names (like a Fedor) had failed a NSAC-sanctioned drug test, it would have put pressure on the various Japanese media outlets to cover the story.

In my opinion, the lack of coverage points to something that we have seen in regards to both the Japanese fans and media in the past in regards to events that take place outside of Japan. Outside of the hardcore Japanese media sites (like NHB News, 2ch, etc.), rarely do you see any sort of buzz at all for Japanese fight events that take place outside of the country. A prime example are the K-1 Las Vegas events. Several years ago when K-1 was drawing big television ratings, the shows that consistently drew the lowest ratings on Fuji TV (out of the K-1 series of shows) were the Las Vegas events (that first aired live on Fuji channel 721 and then later in edited form on free TV).

Going into the PRIDE Las Vegas event, there really wasn’t a lot of significant attention paid to it by the Japanese fans. Sure, there were the PRIDE fans who bought the PPV (like they buy all of PRIDE’s events), but there seems to be something about foreign events that doesn’t captivate the attention of the Japanese fight audience.

This is both a positive and a negative for PRIDE. The fact that the Japanese media didn’t cover the failed drug tests means that PRIDE will not have to deal with any sort of image problem based on “doping,” which is a word that certainly elicits headline-grabbing attention in the sports media over there. In this case, it’s a positive that attention is not being paid to any sort of roadblocks PRIDE faces overseas.

On the other hand, it is an indication that there may be a limit to the attention paid by the Japanese fans in regards to what kind of success a group like K-1 or PRIDE has overseas. If the event isn’t taking place in their home country, there is a habit of detachment from watching the show. It’s really no different than what WWE faced in the past when they ran TV tapings and PPVs from the UK (or other European contries). And it’s no different than the reaction UFC got when they ran Ultimate Japan nearly a decade ago at Yokohama Arena.

If PRIDE can get the Las Vegas events aired on free Japanese TV (the promotion currently has no free TV deal, meaning any eyeballs they can get on free TV would be a plus), then suddenly the overseas event would attract much more attention from the fans. But for right now, not having the media spotlight on having to deal with doping allegations against Belfort and Nastula is a good thing for company management.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “Drug test failures draw no Japanese media attention”

  1. JThue says:

    “Several years ago when K-1 was drawing big television ratings, the shows that consistently drew the lowest ratings on Fuji TV (out of the K-1 series of shows) were the Las Vegas events”

    “If PRIDE can get the Las Vegas events aired on free Japanese TV, then suddenly the overseas event would attract much more attention from the fans.”

    – Huh?

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    “Several years ago when K-1 was drawing big television ratings, the shows that consistently drew the lowest ratings on Fuji TV (out of the K-1 series of shows) were the Las Vegas events”

    “If PRIDE can get the Las Vegas events aired on free Japanese TV, then suddenly the overseas event would attract much more attention from the fans.”

    – Huh?

    Relative terms. K-1 was drawing anywhere from a 14-18 rating on Fuji TV for their shows several years ago on Fuji TV. The Vegas shows would draw anywhere in the 10-11 range, meaning a decline.

    Given that PRIDE currently doesn’t have a free TV deal, they would love to have 10-11 million viewers watching their Las Vegas show on Japanese free TV. However, in comparison to what the average rating would be in general for a fight show on free TV from either PRIDE or K-1, the foreign shows in general draw lesser (but still OK) ratings.

  3. Mike says:

    One question Zach … given the time difference, are you sure the news didn’t simply break too late for those newspapers Friday editions?

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    One question Zach … given the time difference, are you sure the news didn’t simply break too late for those newspapers Friday editions?

    Usually the papers update in the following order online: Sankei Sports first, then Sports Nippon, then either Yomiuri or Nikkan, and then Daily Sports (last).

    They all were updated. Just no mention of the story.

  5. Frankie J says:

    Looks like the Japanese fight press has dropped its vendetta against DSE.

    Time somebody else did huh?

  6. […] Ivan Trembow has more details. I’m sure it won’t make headlines in Japan, but hey… how about that slow news week? […]

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