Let’s discuss the ‘Kohaku’ year-end music show


This week’s featured article


NHK’s “Kohaku” year-end music show earned a viewership rating of just 39.2 percent on New Year’s Eve — the lowest in the annual extravaganza’s 65-year history, according to TV audience researcher Video Research Ltd.

In its heyday, the music show featuring the year’s most successful singers logged a staggering rating of 81.4 percent, in 1963. Both ratings were compiled by Video Research and represent the results from the Kanto region.

The program, which used to be loved by all generations, “failed to attract people who never watched ‘Kohaku,’ ” said music industry analyst Takashi Usui. “Artists popular with youths appeared early in the show, and its finale consisted only of safe options based on past hit songs. There were no surprises, which ought to be the characteristics of a live program.”

“Kohaku Uta Gassen” (“Red and White Song Battle”) has been divided into two parts since 1989. The rating for the second part, which includes the finale, is considered the show’s primary barometer of popularity. For the latest show, that rating sank 3.0 points from the previous year. The Kanto rating for the first part was 34.8 percent, down 0.3 point.

But Usui said that the results do not reflect those who watched the show on smartphones, so it still has the potential to make a comeback.

“Young people used to think ‘Kohaku’ was uncool. This image is waning and the show can increase its popularity by using more ingenuity in production and a wiser order for the singers,” he said.

“Kohaku” started in 1951 as a radio program. The show puts female singers in the red group and male singers in the white group. At the end of the show, judges and the audience vote to decide which group performed better.

First published in The Japan Times on Jan. 3.

Warm up

One-minute chat about year-end.


Collect words related to “new year,” e.g., shrine, sunrise, card.

New words

1) extravaganza: spectacular entertainment or production; e.g., “The show was a singing and dancing extravaganza.”

2) stagger: to astonish or shock; e.g., “He was staggered by the terrible news.”

3) compile: produce by assembling information collected from other sources; e.g., “He compiled a CD of his favorite music for her.”

4) ingenuity: the quality of being clever or original; e.g., “The designer was praised for her ingenuity.”

Guess the headline

N_ _ sees ratings for ‘K_ _ _ _ _’ music show sink to lowest ever


1) What was the viewership rating for “Kohaku” when it was at its most popular?

2) What does the expert think is behind its drop in popularity?

3) When did the current format of “Kohaku” start?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What did you do on New Year’s Eve? Did you watch “Kohaku”?

2) What is your image of “Kohaku”?

3) What do you think NHK should do to raise the viewership rating for Kohaku?







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