On court, the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships will forever be remembered as one of the sport’s most dramatic events of all time, as shock results and thrilling performances captured the attention of both the longstanding table tennis fans, who may have thought they had seen it all before, as well as a completely new generation of followers, totally in awe of events unfolding in Budapest.
Telling the story from the Hungarian capital, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) reached and engaged with record-breaking audiences both on its in-house platforms (itTV and ITTF.com) and on its full range of social media channels, while ensuring that TV viewers across the globe were treated to the best action from the sport’s greatest annual event.
TV goes more global than ever
Viewers from over 145 countries were treated to a total of 1,176 hours of TV coverage from Budapest (up from 140 nations and 862 hours in 2018), seeing the cumulative audience sit at 265.07 million people and cumulative reach at 665.71 million.
Of the major broadcasters, China’s CCTV & CCTV 5+ channels showed 81 hours of action, Japan’s TV Tokyo contributed 21 hours and Eurosport 1 & 2 channels showed 16 hours with an additional 103 hours broadcast on the Eurosport player.
Data provided by CSM Sports & Media Research has also revealed that the Men’s Singles Finals between European pride Mattias FALCK (SWE) and defending Champion MA Long (CHN) made it to the top of the chart to become the most watched TV sports programme of the year so far in China, reaching 41 million TV audiences, with close to 25 million simultaneous viewers on CCTV-5 at its peak.
Entertaining on in-house platforms
The ITTF’s live streaming platform, itTV, broke new ground in Budapest with an average 44,800 unique viewers tuning in from 148 countries for a total of 4.8 million sessions (up from 3.6 million in 2017). As many as eight tables were streamed live during the first half of the event, bringing unique levels of access to ITTV subscribers.
It was an event to remember also on ITTF.com with 1.05 million readers visiting the official website (up from 691,000 in 2018).
Providing live updates on the main event blog, features, flash quotes, round-up articles and preview pieces, ITTF.com also drew a record 5.59 million page views over the eight days.
Youtube. You win!
The go-to place for match highlights, you’d only have to visit the ITTF’s official Youtube account to watch the very best of the action from Budapest.
80.57 million impressions, 8.6 million video views and 34.7 million viewed minutes sum up a huge success story for the platform, which completely smashed previous figures of 977,000 video views and 1.54 million viewed minutes from the 2018 World Championships.
In addition to match highlights, Youtube followers can continue to enjoy a whole range of videos posted during the event, such as the #TATATrickshot Challenge, the #LiebherrLive series, the #InsideMyMind series, not to mention all of the behind the scenes content coming from the HUNGEXPO venue.
Transformation on Twitter
Treated to constant video clips updating on the all the big results, key turning points, standout shots and rallies, not to mention the bespoke World Championships emoji appearing next to all event hashtags, those following the ITTF on Twitter accounted for a meteoric rise, not least in terms of total impressions: over 20 million, compared to 3.5 million in 2018.
The timely use of media polls, to get fans sending in their predictions, and GIFs to capture the raw emotions in the moment, also helped ramp up total engagements to almost 650,000, while approximately 8.4 million media views provided the latest proof of how the ITTF’s partnership with Twitter is bearing fruit on the biggest stage.
Impressing on Instagram
Enormous gains were registered also on Instagram, where the cream of the competition’s video and photographic content drew unprecedented levels of activity: over 23.5 million impressions on posts alone marked an increase of over 10 million on 2018’s figures, while total reach exceeded 14 million users and likes weighed in at 1.37 million.
Meanwhile, Instagram Lives accounted for 5.14 million impressions (up from 1.89 million in 2018) as users enjoyed unique access to the practice hall, the stands and even courtside to see some of the biggest stars at work.
Loving it live on Facebook
A total 27.56 million impressions on Facebook marked yet another social media high at a World Championships, with users keen to consume all kinds of video content on the platform, varying from incredible rallies and major upsets to behind the scenes and much more, as total reach (18.6 million) and video views (5.7 million) also grew on figures from the previous individual World Championships held in 2017 in Dusseldorf (10.3 million and 4.3 million respectively).
Followers were treated also to a selection of live streamed matches, the best of which saw 100,000 viewers tune in to watch one of the biggest shocks in Budapest, as Simon Gauzy defeated Xu Xin in style:
Chinese social success
On-court glory for Chinese table tennis stars was matched by record interaction on the nation’s social networks:
The 2019 World Championships hashtag garnered a staggering 500 million impressions on Weibo marked a record high at a World Championships for the ITTF’s largest Chinese social platform. The event also 50.4 million post views and 187,000 engagements registered on the ITTF’s Weibo account over the eight days.
New ground was broken also on WeChat (@ITTFChannel) with 83,300 article views and on Toutiao: the ever more popular news app saw 700 million video impressions, 119 million article impressions and 43 million video views.
ITTF’s Chinese digital media partner ZhiboTV, also saw over 20.6 million page views from 5.7 million unique visitors for the live streaming of the World Championships on their OTT platform.
On the success of the Liebherr 2019 World Table Tennis Championships, ITTF Marketing Director Matt POUND shared:
The ITTF has gone from strength to strength on social and digital media as the team grows based on the additional revenue and engagement through our platforms. These numbers show that table tennis as a sport one of the most followed sports on earth, and it is ready to go to the next commercial level with our next right cycle with our new strategic partner.