06 January 2021, 3pm
To help reduce crowding along the course, as part of the effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, organisers of the flagship Hakone Ekiden encouraged people to “cheer from home.” This is thought to have resulted in more people than usual watching the TV broadcast.
Nippon TV’s two-day coverage recorded average ratings of 31.0% for the first day’s broadcast from 07:00–14.05 on 2 January and 33.7% for the second day from 07.00–14.18 on 3 January. Equivalent figures last year were 27.5% and 28.6%. The two-day average of 32.3% for the broadcast was the highest recorded since ratings were first monitored in 1987. The second day’s peak instantaneous viewership rating reached 41.8%.
According to Video Research’s measurements, nationwide a total of roughly 64.71 million people tuned in for some part of the two-day broadcast, approximately half the national population. Viewers 4 years or older who tuned in for at least one minute were counted in the estimate.