From left: NHK announcer Mayuko Wakuda, actor Yo Oizumi and actress Haruna Kawaguchi serve as show hosts for NHK’s “Kohaku” live music show on Dec. 31 in Tokyo. (Kyodo Photo)

KYODO NEWS SERVICE

TOKYO — Viewer ratings for national broadcaster NHK’s “Kohaku” live music show on New Year’s Eve fell to a record low of 34.3 percent, a TV viewership research firm said Sunday.

Once a colossally popular year-end event among the Japanese public after NHK began airing it in the 1950s, the ratings are the lowest since Video Research Ltd. began tracking the show’s viewership in 1962.

“Kohaku Uta Gassen,” which literally translates to “red and white song battle,” features Japan’s most popular singers, splitting them into female and male teams that vie for votes from the in-studio audience and television viewers.

The 2021 show, split into two parts, aired from 7:30 to 11:45 p.m. on Friday.

The ratings were down 6.0 percentage points from a year earlier and well off the peak of 81.4 percent recorded in 1963.

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