Surprising Appointment of Comedy Duo “Chidori” as MCs for Fuji Television’s “Sport!” Revival Sparks Dismay in Production Field After Eight-Year Hiatus | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Surprising Appointment of Comedy Duo “Chidori” as MCs for Fuji Television’s “Sport!” Revival Sparks Dismay in Production Field After Eight-Year Hiatus

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On March 14th, Chidori’s Daigo (left) and Nobu (right) attended the unveiling ceremony for Suntory Chu-Hi’s new commercial. They are highly sought after in every industry.

Fuji Television announced the revival of “Sport!” from March 31st, airing every Saturday and Sunday night, which had been broadcast from 2001 to 2016. While there was a welcoming atmosphere from the sports world aiming to quickly recover from recent low ratings, when it was announced that the main hosts (MC) would be the comedy duo “Chidori,” the welcoming mood diminished. Even before the highly anticipated first episode of the revival, murmurs have started among Fuji Television’s staff, questioning, “What on earth is the higher management at our company (Fuji Television) thinking?”


“The decision to cast Chidori was made by the programming department. At the scene, there is a prevailing mood of disappointment along with a sense of embarrassment. We have heard that there is a corporate relationship between Yoshimoto, to which Chidori belongs, and Fuji Television,” said one insider.


The programming department holds significant authority in the lineup of programs at commercial television stations. At Fuji Television, the head of the programming department is often crucial, and at 42 years old, Hieda Hisashi(86), who has long served as the top of the Fuji Sankei Group, was appointed as the head of the programming department. Information about the intention to use Chidori had circulated among employees above a certain position, and the casting had been progressing behind the scenes. As a result, even if the staff on site have their own preferences, the intentions of the programming department may take precedence, and their opinions may not be taken into account. It is worth noting that Chidori, whose MC appointment has been decided this time, is under Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of the major shareholders of Fuji Media Holdings, which Fuji Television is under. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the relationship between the two has influenced the casting.


For Fuji Television, the revival of Sport! was supposed to be a long-awaited event. Sport!, which started in 2001, became Fuji’s flagship program as the only sports information program broadcast on terrestrial television during late nights on weekdays, expanding from its predecessor, “Professional Baseball News,” to feature European soccer ahead of other stations. When it was decided to end in 2016, there were many voices of regret, even from the sports world, saying, “There should have been other shows to cut!”


Fuji Television, which has monopolized the annual triple crown of viewership ratings from 1982 for 12 years, has not been hearing good news lately, having fallen to the lowest among commercial broadcasters in the golden time slot in the second week of November last year, even being surpassed by TV Tokyo. In such circumstances, aiming to reverse the tide in the April lineup, one of the pillars was the revival of Sport!


“Even if we try to broadcast live baseball or soccer matches, the hurdle has become higher due to the soaring broadcasting rights and the rise of online distribution. However, after the end of Sport!, there were hardly any news programs specialized in sports that emerged on other stations to replace ours. So when we heard that it would be revived within the station, the staff was certainly excited,” says the aforementioned Fuji Television insider.


However, a bucket of cold water was thrown from within the family. That was the decision to appoint the comedy duo “Chidori” as the hosts. While Daigo (43) is a former high school baseball player (Kasokayama Commercial School in Okayama), he has never participated in Koshien. Nobu (44) only claims to be a soccer fan. As mentioned earlier, the decision to appoint these two was made by the programming department of the same network.

At the Tokyo performance, her first ice show since turning professional, Marin Honda skated freely and gracefully. (excerpted from Marin Honda’s Instagram, with some modifications).

Former Johnny’s member Taichi Kokubun was once employed, resulting in a major failure.

For “Sport!”, there is a significant trauma associated with the use of non-athletic talents as MCs. Due to Fuji Television’s long-standing close relationship with the former Johnny & Associates, which had been eventizing events such as the Volleyball World Cup, for about six years from 2009, former Johnny’s member of TOKIO, Taichi Kokubun, was chosen as the “Saturday Sport! Editor-in-Chief” and MC because he had numbers (ratings). However, this turned out to be a complete failure.

“He was completely ignorant even when coming to the sports scene, and there were many boos from the subjects of coverage,” said an evening paper reporter. Strange exchanges with commentators were also conspicuous within the program, and “there were many people who clearly stated that they didn’t want to work with him,” said another Fuji Television employee.

When Kokubun left in 2014, “Sport!” was canceled two years later because “there was no hope of reversing the ratings.” Knowing these circumstances, representatives from other stations unanimously reveal:

“We were surprised that Chidori was cast in Fuji’s sports program. Even if the MCs chosen had an interest in sports, if it became clear that they hadn’t studied when coming to the scene, it’s common for athletes, stakeholders, and even commentators working together to dislike them,” said a director from a commercial station.

For the revived “Sport!”, Fuji Television’s announcer Daijiro Enami (38), who was the captain of the Keio University swimming team, was appointed, and the commentary team included former professional baseball player Seiichi Uchikawa, former Major League Baseball player Hisashi Iwakuma, soccer player Shinji Ono, who has extensive experience playing abroad, and Marin Honda, who retired after this season and transitioned to a professional skater. A lineup of luxurious former top athletes. How will Fuji Television’s resurrection story entrusted to the “MC Chidori” unfold?

Seiichi Uchikawa, who also served as a reporter for NHK’s “Sunday Sports,” made his first appearance of the year in January, where he appeared alongside former sumo grand champion Miyagino Oyakata (formerly known as Yokozuna Hakuho). (excerpted from Seiichi Uchikawa’s Instagram, with some modifications).

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