TOKYO (Reuters) – A record television audience in Japan watched the Asian nation’s 38-19 win over Samoa in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, with more than 40% of the country tuning in.
A peak audience share of 46.1% was recorded as watching on free-to-air Nippon Television, World Rugby said in a statement.
Local media said it was the most watched sporting event of the year in Japan, surpassing Naomi Osaka’s win over Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final.
More than 25 million people watched Japan’s victory over Samoa at the last World Cup, a domestic TV audience record before Saturday’s match.
Japan, who are now within touching distance of a first ever quarter-final berth, face Scotland on Sunday, which is expected to attract an even bigger audience.
Around 150,000 people watched the Samoa match in fanzones across the country.
“This remarkable Rugby World Cup continues to gather momentum and it is exciting to see that it is attracting new fans here in Japan,” said World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont.
More than 700,000 people have attended fanzones in Japan so far during the tournament. A record 770,000 people attended fanzones at the previous World Cup in England in 2015.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge)