Industry and Competitive Structure
Baseball is the most popular sport in Japan. The people of Japan recognize baseball as part of their culture and heritage. Also Japan has the second largest economy in the world so many of the Japanese people have a stable family life and a good amount of disposable income. Although there is only one professional baseball league in Japan, Major League Baseball faces competition from other professional sports such as golf, sumo wrestling and soccer. The biggest competitive threat for MLB would be the Japan Golf Tour and the J League, which is Japan’s extremely popular professional soccer league. All in all millions of Japanese citizens go to watch Nippon Professional baseball and millions more watch NPB games on television, so there is a potential marketplace for MLB to do business.
Golf. Golf is the 4th most popular sport in Japan and in the past decade the popularity of golf in Japan has fallen. In Japan the sport of golf is viewed as a pompous business sport and not viewed as a recreational sport as it is the United States. The sport has started to pick up interest in Japan as Ai Miyazato, a professional women’s player who is now on the LPGA tour changes the Japanese perception of the sport of golf. Miyazato was the youngest Japanese golfer to win $1 million USD in one year and the television ratings of Miyazato’s tournament appearances are higher than that of Tiger Woods in Japan. Miyazato’s popularity has caused investment managers from the United States to invest in golf in Japan. UBS and Goldman Sachs have purchased around 180 golf courses from unprofitable owners in the past five years.
We believe the popularity of playing golf in Japan will turn around, especially since large amounts of cash from American investment managers is being plugged into Japanese golf. Although we believe golf will make a comeback in Japan, the competitive threat of professional golf against MLB is very...