New Japan Pro Wrestling 2021 Business In Review

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 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.

Jason Ounpraseuth has covered pro wrestling since 2019. He co-hosts the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also an independent pro wrestler and trainer. For more, see our About page.

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New Japan Pro-Wrestling business update following Bushiroad annual report FY2020

New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s parent company, Bushiroad, Inc., released its annual report on Monday for its fiscal year ending July 31, 2020.

Revenues for Bushiroad’s sports division, largely supported by New Japan, were down slightly.

  • FY2018: 4.891 billion yen = $47 million USD
  • FY2019: 5.333 billion yen = $51 million USD
  • FY2020: 5.021 billion yen = $48 million USD

Bushiroad sports division revenue trends are shown here in yellow.

Bushiroad’s report stated that NJPW World has 100,000 paid subscribers. This is about the same as the service had one year prior.

Approximate known data points about NJPW World subscribers are shown here.

The report also highlights that New Japan drew 70,071 attendees over two days at the Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January, that New Japan established in November a U.S. incorporation associated with their strategy to do business globally and in the U.S., and that in December Bushiroad acquired women’s wrestling promotion Stardom.

As expected, a study of New Japan’s official website reports of event attendance shows attendance was down in FY2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, events from March 1 until July 11 were cancelled or had no fans in attendance. Events from July 11 and after have only been allowed with limited capacity.

A pro forma comparison of attendance that excludes the months where events were affected by Covid, and therefore looking only at the months of August through February, shows total attendance was on track to exceed prior years, largely related to an increase in the number of events.

From August 2019 to February 2020, New Japan’s total attendance — Wrestle Kingdom excluded — was up 12% over the months of the previous year. New Japan ran 100 events in that period in FY2020 but only 86 in FY2019. Consequently, average attendance from August 2019 to February 2020 is down 3% from the year prior. Illustrated below:

It’s likely we’ll see a specific report from New Japan about it’s own revenue. FY2019 revenue for the company is show on the New Japan official website in its company profile page. In FY2019, New Japan says it generated 5.4 billion yen in revenue, or $52 million USD. That’s New Japan’s highest grossing year in its history.

From New Japan Pro-Wrestling annual revenue, 1980-2018

A balance sheet for the fiscal year may appear on the official website domain sometime in October that shows net income. In FY2019, New Japan reported net income of 493 million yen, or $4.7 million USD. For comparison, WWE in the calendar year of 2019 reported $960 million in revenue and $77 million in net income.

Bushiroad reported a profitable year for FY2020, with the equivalent of $15 million in net income on revenues of $316 million.

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