New Japan Pro-Wrestling concluded its G1 Climax 31 at the Nippon Budokan on Thursday. Kazuchika Okada won the tournament, and the company will be preparing for a three-night Wrestle Kingdom 16 event in January 2022.
Recent vaccination data from ourworldindata.org shows 70% of the population in Japan are fully vaccinated. However, New Japan has been running their shows in Japan with limited attendance throughout the past year, even as wrestling events in the U.S. return to full capacity while just 57% of the American population has been fully vaccinated.
From August 2020 to June 2021, a period when Japan’s leading wrestling company returned to events but had no shows in Japan at full capacity, New Japan barely managed to profit. The promotion was basically a break even business, reporting the equivalent of about $60,000 U.S. in net income, or ¥6,292,000 in Japanese yen.
Revenue is a different story. New Japan stopped reporting the number on its official website after 2019. Parent company, Bushiroad, reported its sports division, which now consists of New Japan and Stardom, generated 4.5 billion yen through the eleven months of August 2020 to June 2021, or about $40 million.
Bushiroad reported a loss of 280 million yen for the same eleven-month period, about $2.5 million. But the maker of trading cards and mobile games reports it expects a “substantial profit recovery” in the new fiscal year.
New Japan’s revenue likely held up in part because streaming service NJPW World had 116,000 paid subscribers worldwide in January 2021, the month of the company’s biggest event, Wrestle Kingdom. The subscriber count is the service’s highest ever.
The last time New Japan ran an event at full capacity in Japan was before the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020. As a result of not being able to run events at full capacity, New Japan more events than in pre-Covid years. Based on the current event schedule, the promotion will run 174 events in calendar year 2021. However, six of those reported events are New Japan Strong TV tapings in the U.S.
This is a slight increase from 170 events in 2019 and 162 in 2018. October 2021, when the G1 Climax took place, was a big month for events, with 21. This is the most events New Japan ran in one month since January 2020, when it ran 19.
Despite taking four months off in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, that year will still likely have a significantly higher total attendance count than in 2021, which had a full year of events.
Due to 2021 events held at limited capacity, the median attendance for shows through October has been under 700. This is less than half of what New Japan has done in previous years, with 2019 being a high year of a median attendance of 1,700.
A slide from Bushiroad investor relations disclosed that New Japan and Stardom combined make up 14% of Bushiroad overall business. Additional slides highlight Stardom’s even in March at the Nippon Budokan show, as well as New Japan’s distribution on Roku.
New Japan content was launched on free ad-supported video service Roku in February. Bushiroad’s slide touts that Roku has over 40 million users, but it’s likely not more than a small percentage of users have ever watched New Japan on the service, where the latest content is from several months ago.
New Japan hasn’t been on traditional television in the U.S. since its weekly program left AXS TV in late 2019.