By Calvin Koh
Popularity of the sport also soars in Japan
Table tennis is the number one and most-watched sport in China at the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
According to figures released by CSM Media Research, close to 350 million unique viewers, the largest audience of any sport at the games, tuned in to watch CCTV-5’s coverage of all table tennis events from the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
A total Chinese audience of close to 75 and 74 million also watched the Women’s Single and Men’s Single finals live respectively, where more than 190 hours of airtime on CCTV-5 were given to table tennis.
The Chinese trio of Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng and Wang Manyu beat Japan’s Mima Ito, Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano 3-0. They won the Women’s Team gold for the fourth time and maintained their perfect record of not losing a single team match in Olympic history.
During the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the audience rating for the Men’s Team final reached 4.45%. There were 19 million hashtag reads with post impressions reaching 47.57 million.
The audience rating for the Women’s Team final followed closely with 4.36% with the finals for both the Men’s and Women’s Team ranked among the top three sports in CCTV-5’s broadcast.
The audience ratings for the Men’s and Women’s Singles finals went as high as 3.73% and 3.65% respectively, making it into the top 10 list of CCTV’s sports broadcast schedule.
On WTT’s official Chinese social media channels, the entire platform gained an increase of 270,000 followers. Weibo had over 100 million impressions and 300,000 engagements whilst Douyin, its short video platform enjoyed over 200 million video views and reached more than three million engagements.
There were also more than 50 hot trending topics related to table tennis on Weibo with the most popular being the Mixed Doubles final and Ma Long, the most decorated table tennis Olympian in history with a record of five gold medals.
Viewership figures for the sport in Japan have also soared, indicating the significant level of interest for table tennis from Japanese consumers watching matches on television and online has increased.
In a recent poll conducted by Japanese media Asahi Shimbun, the most memorable event for the Japanese during the Olympic Games was the table tennis mixed doubles final ahead of judo, baseball, softball and the track and events.
Jun Mizutani, and Ito outplayed China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to win the gold medal for Japan in the inaugural event. That historic victory meant the host nation had claimed its first-ever gold medal across all table tennis disciplines at the Olympic Games since the sport’s debut at the Seoul Olympics in 1988
More than 17% of Japanese polled ranked table tennis as one of their most popular sports. 16% chose judo, followed by 12% in baseball, 6% in softball and track and field.
In the same poll, 22% of the female audience believed the most impressive event at the Games was table tennis whilst 12% of male audiences choose table tennis too.
More statistics from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be shared in the coming weeks but in the meantime, table tennis fans can look forward to more action as WTT events return with WTT Contender Budapest from 15-20 August. Olympic stars including Liam Pitchford, Xiaoxin Yang, Georgina Pota, Manika Batra and Paulina Vega will all be back in action.
A brand-new mobile application, the first global app to be made available for table tennis, has also been launched by WTT. It offers the most comprehensive mobile access available and allows table tennis fans worldwide to get the latest news on the World Championships, WTT Contender Series and WTT Youth Series at their fingertips.
About World Table Tennis
Successfully launched in 2021, WTT heralds a new era for professional table tennis with the new WTT Series showcasing the sport’s best and up-and-coming table tennis players in up to 34 events worldwide. The WTT Series features four Grand Smashes as the pillars of the support. Eight single-table, single-gender WTT Champions events, the WTT Contender Series and the season-ending WTT Cup Finals, all of which will entertain fans and inspire future generations of table tennis players. Complemented by the global WTT Youth Series and WTT Feeder Series, WTT creates a pathway that showcases the journey of a player from day one to World No. 1 through the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings. For more information, please visit worldtabletennis.com.