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Nielsen Sports releases Fan Insight Report, profiling 10,000 sports fans

3 minute read | December 2023

• LA Angels now have more fans in Japan than the Yomiuri Giants

Tokyo – December 14, 2023 Nielsen Sports today released its latest Fan Insight Report – an independent survey of Japan’s ever-growing legion of sports fans. The report includes rankings of popular sports and sporting events, as well as fan recognition, and core fan rates for each sport.

The report is the result of Nielsen Sport surveys conducted in more than 20 regions around the globe, looking at trends between 2020 to 2023, including the impact of Covid.

It gives brands, rights holders, agencies, and sports marketers the detailed insights they need to design, refine and increase the success of strategies and campaigns.


The popularity of Japanese players can make a big difference to the fanbase of a team, even the sport itself, often resulting in a marked shift in fan interest before, during, and after international games.

• Soccer viewership surpasses baseball
Soccer now tops baseball when it comes to local viewers.

• Despite trailing soccer, baseball viewership is growing
Japan’s interest in baseball remains strong, and the number of fans grew in 2023 thanks to the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

• Popular players are difference-makers
US Major League Baseball Team (MLB), the Los Angeles Angels, have surpassed the Yomiuri Giants when it comes to the number of Japanese fans, thanks in no small part to local hero, Shohei Ohtani.

The research shows this effect has had an increase on interest in the sport overall, with Japanese fans of all MLB teams increasing.

Otani, who won the MLB’s MVP award earlier this year recently signed a record-setting contract with the LA Dodgers, which is likely to fuel the popularity of American baseball in Japan.

Japanese basketballer, Rui Hachimura, also helped to grow the number of LA Lakers fans in Japan, following his signing to the prestigious NBA team – confirming that local players in foreign leagues grows the sport’s fanbase.

• Influence of sponsorships is on the rise
From the survey result of brand sponsorship, the number of fans who answered “sponsorship contributes to brand appeal” and “sponsorship exposure is more memorable than other advertising” is gradually increasing

Other key insights available in the report

  • Top 20 most popular Sports Ranking in Japan: Awareness, fan size, core fan Size, Media watchers, and event attendees
  • Top 30 most popular local and global sports events for Japanese audiences
  • Top 30 most popular sports leagues in the world for Japanese audience
  • Top 50 most popular professional sports teams in Japan and the US for Japanese audiences (Japanese professional baseball teams, J1/J2, B-League, MLB, NBA)


  • Audiences increases post-Covid
  • Sports fan overlap
  • Effects of the World Cup on Japanese fans
  • Changes in Rugby fans from the 2019 Rugby World Cup vs 2023 World Cup
  • Are The Olympics no longer a fan favourite?

Please contact us for more information about the report