31 Dec 2018

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) enters unchartered territory in 2018, posting record-breaking numbers across TV, social media and online streaming of a sport in ever-increasing demand.

Table Tennis on TV: exceptional exposure, audience & value

It’s official! The sky really is the limit in terms of Table Tennis’ global exposure and popularity; and 2018 provided the hard evidence:

An accumulative audience of approximately 1 billion people tuned in to watch the ITTF’s key events during 2018 (World Table Tennis Championships, World Cups and World Tour Platinum) on TV screens across the globe.

The above events accounted for over 3,145 hours of broadcast time worldwide and more than 300 hours on CCTV-5, the dedicated Sports channel of China Central Television, which also registered over 800 million unique viewers.

The extraordinary levels of exposure resulted in total official sponsorship media value of approximately US $ 900 million, a figure that will rise further still following the recently concluded Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.

Smashing figures on social media

Approximately 1.2 billion impressions were registered on the ITTF’s social media channels over the last year, including almost 550 million on Youtube, over 300 million on Weibo and over 200 million on Facebook, with Facebook posts reaching as many as 140 million unique users throughout 2018.

By showcasing the very best rallies and an unbelievable level of technical skill, tenacity and endurance that only Table Tennis can provide, the ITTF smashed its engagement figures across the board during 2018, growing its total number of interactions on Instagram by 50% to almost 7 million and on Twitter by an impressive 68%.

Follower growth rate figures also make for excellent reading over the course of the last 12 months: 37% on Twitter, 41% on Instagram and 48% on Youtube, whilst the ITTF’s Facebook page surpassed the significant milestone of 500,000 likes.

Table Tennis’ traditionally high following in China has also gone from strength to strength, currently standing at approximately 1.75 million, the vast majority of which on Weibo with figures on Wechat also on the rise.

As a successful 2018 draws to a close, a total of 2.8 million people are now following the ITTF on social media platforms across the world.

“Compared to previous years, Table Tennis is now unrecognisable in terms of its colossal media coverage across TV, social media, website and web streaming. The ground-breaking achievements posted in 2018 promise for even bigger and better things to come in 2019!”

Matt Pound, ITTF Marketing Director

Video content is king

A staggering 155 million video views across Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter during 2018 provide sure proof of the ITTF’s success in harnessing the power of video to showcase unbelievably breath-taking rallies which Table Tennis can so consistently offer.

Rapid growth in video views from the ITTF’s Twitter account now sees it placed among the top 200 sports publishers worldwide and among the top 15 in Asia-Pacific.

355 years and 125 days of watch time on Youtube. Yes, you did read that correctly! The ITTF’s fastest-growing social platform enjoyed an exceptional 2018, also registering a 15% increase in average viewing duration to reach 3 minutes, 43 seconds.

The most popular video from the last calendar year, weighing in with almost 11 years of watch time, was teenage wonderkid Tomokazu Harimoto’s (JPN) stunning defeat of longstanding Table Tennis legend Ma Long (CHN):

50 million video views on Facebook was the reward for strong rallies, match highlights and fun player content posted daily on the platform, and it was this jaw-dropping rally and match, won by Cristian Pletea (ROU) at December’s World Junior Championships, which recorded the most organic video views on the ITTF’s page: a whopping 1.7 million!

On Instagram, video views increased by 43% to almost 24 million. You’d be hard-pressed to see a cheekier way of winning a point than this incredible return from under the table! The result? Over 220,000 impressions and 16,000 interactions: the best-performing Instagram post of the year.

Website and web streaming success

An increased appetite for live Table Tennis in HD quality is more than satisfied by itTV and the ITTF’s official online streaming platform has broken new ground in 2018 with more than 1 million users tuning in during the calendar year for average sessions of over 10 minutes of unmissable action and highlights.

Furthermore, the platform has attracted a wholly diverse, international following, spanning from Germany, France and the United Kingdom (1st, 4th and 9th respectively), the United States and Brazil (3rd and 5th) to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China (2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th).

Meanwhile, an extraordinary 142.3 million unique viewers tuned into Chinese online streaming platform Zhibo TV to watch the 2,593 matches (both in qualification and main competition) broadcast over the course of the calendar year, resulting in a total of almost 405 million page views!

2018 was a year to remember also for the ITTF’s official website. 40 million page views marked a 40% increase on the previous year, while there was also an upturn in total website sessions (13.3 million) and the number of visitors (over 3.2 million).

Increasingly engaging content ensured that people spent more time than ever before on ITTF.com, rising the average session duration to almost 4 minutes (up from 3 and a half minutes in 2017).

Big events. Even bigger numbers!

The largest event in the Table Tennis calendar for 2018, the Liebherr 2018 ITTF World Team Championships yielded record statistics:

The Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour did not disappoint either! In TV terms, the Platinum events alone brought approximately 1,500 hours of broadcast time and an accumulative audience of over 200 million people, whilst each of the six prestige events registered approximately 100 million impressions on social media.

With an accumulative TV audience of almost 37 million, 31 million social media impressions and over 1 million interactions, the most successful ITTF World Tour event of 2018 was the Japan Open: the scene of the aforementioned Harimoto’s rise to stardom before the 15-year-old went one better by winning the end-of-year showpiece event: the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.

Indeed, history was made in Incheon, Korea Republic, not only on court, but also on computers, mobile devices, tablets and TV screens worldwide.

A total of 32 million impressions, 15 million reach, well over 1 million interactions and a further 1 millon plus views on Youtube: fitting statistics to crown an unforgettable year for the sport.

Bring on 2019!

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