Television ratings surged to a record high on Friday night during the World Baseball Classic game between Taiwan and Japan, with up to 21.54 percent of viewers tuning in to the dramatic back-and-forth battle in the late innings.
According to data provided by ACNielsen Taiwan, the average viewing figure for the live relay of the game on the VL Sports channel was 15.47 percent and that number shot up to 21.54 percent at about 10:30pm, in the final inning.
Another broadcast by the Public Television Service had an average of 4.54 percent, with viewership spiking to almost 8 percent.
The combined figures translated into an estimated home viewership of 6.55 million people, meaning almost one in three people in Taiwan was watching the game on Friday night, with even more people watching the game at restaurants, sports bars and big outdoor venues around the nation where large screens were set up. More than 7 million people in total were estimated to have watched the game on Friday night in Taiwan.
The ratings for the Taiwan-Japan game eclipsed the previous highest rating, set during the Taiwan-South Korea game on Tuesday, which averaged 12.17 percent and peaked at 18.43 percent.
Throughout the game, medical centers nationwide reported unusually high numbers of emergency calls. As Japan tied up the score late in the contest, hospitals in New Taipei City (新北市) recorded 32 calls for emergency medical aid. These comprised 22 cases of people fainting, three heart attacks, three cases of stroke and four asthma attacks.
During the game, hospitals in New Taipei City (新北市) reported a total of 95 calls requesting emergency medical services.
Some fans said that during the excitement, their hearts felt as if they would pop out. Toward the end of the game, as Japan led by a run and Taiwan came to bat in the extra inning trying to catch up, the nation was wracked with tension.
Many fans posted on their Facebook pages and other social network sites messages such as: “My heart is paralyzed now” and “Can someone lend me a heart resuscitator?”
Additional reporting by Chiu Chun-fu and Cheng Shu-ting