Many expected strong ratings for the 68th annual "Kohaku Uta Gassen". Popular newcomers such as TWICE were supposed to draw in younger viewers. Tons of buzz was created when Namie Amuro decided to perform at the last minute.
So it was a surprise when the numbers came in. Ratings for the program did not even break 40%. Instead, the overall ratings were at 39.4% for the night.
This was Kohaku's 3rd worse ratings since the program switched to the two part system in 1989. The only two years to perform worse in ratings was 2015 (39.2%) and 2004 (39.3%).
Analysts attribute the disappointing ratings to strong competing year-end programs such as "Johnny's Countdown". A reduction in enka singers turned older viewers off to the program.
Netizens took to Twitter to question Kohaku's relevance in the contemporary music landscape. Although being invited to perform is still considered an honor, the prestige associated with an appearance has waned throughout the years.