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Everyone has their favorite sports, and 850 million fans from Europe, Africa, Asia, and America chose Table Tennis.
The sport is relatively new compared to mainstream sports. Its dominance began in China a century ago, spreading to the rest of the world.
In this article, you’ll find the level of table tennis popularity from traditional to digital viewership statistics.
- 350 million unique viewers in China watched table tennis in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
- Men’s and Women’s Finals were in the top three most-watched sports broadcasted.
- One of the most popular sports for 17% of Japanese was Table tennis.
- More viewers tuned in on CCTV, doubling the air time from 3,145 hours in 2018 to 6,911 hours in 2019.
- Millennial table tennis fans prefer to engage on Instagram.
- Rio 2016 Olympics table tennis broadcast is mostly watched by ages 30 to 49.
- 22% of females and 12% of males comprised the Tokyo 2020 Olympics table tennis audience.
- 932 million audiences accounted for the three ITTF and World Table Tennis events.
- 69% of viewers subscribed to itTV and ITTF platforms in 2019.
- The 1994 Qatar Open exhibition match was the most viewed on Facebook, with 150 million views.
How Large is Table Tennis Viewership?
With a 37% growth, the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) social media community increased by over 1 million fans in a year for the first time, rising from 2.M in 2018 to 3.85M in 2019.
Youtube saw a 46% rise in subscribers. Facebook gained 200,000 followers, and Instagram reached the 250,000 follower mark. It was also trending on Twitter, with 96 million impressions and 40 million video views.
With these viewership statistics, let’s look at how widespread table tennis is worldwide:
Table Tennis Viewership Worldwide
Table tennis receives little public attention, but its popularity soars every four years. New fans start to appreciate the sport, which needs to be improved to attract many audiences.
Since the early 1900s, Ping-Pong has advanced from England’s parlor game to the world’s fast-reaction racket sports, known today as table tennis.
Follow this growing table tennis community worldwide with the information below.
1. About 350 million unique viewers watched table tennis in China during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Table tennis was China’s number one and most-watched sport in the 2020 Olympics. It had the largest audience of any sport, tuning on CCTV-5’s coverage of all table tennis events from the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
75 million Chinese fans watched the Women’s Single and 74 million for the Men’s Single finals live. It accounted for more than 190 hours of airtime on CCTV-5.
2. Men’s and Women’s Finals ranked among the top three sports in CCTV-5’s broadcast.
The Men’s Team Finals audience rating reached 4.45% during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with 19 million hashtags and 47.57 million post impressions, as opposed to the Women’s Team Finals’ 4.36%.
Men’s (3.73%) and Women’s (3.65%) Singles Final audience ratings made the top 10 of CCTV’s sports broadcast schedule list.
3. 17% of Japanese considered table tennis one of their most popular sports.
Japan’s viewership soared, with more Japanese watching on television and online as their national team outplayed China’s and bagged its first gold table tennis medal since 1988.
A survey revealed their most memorable Olympics event was the table tennis mixed doubles final ahead of judo (16%), baseball (12%), and softball and track and field (6%).
4. Table tennis viewership in Asia reached 433.1 million, while Europe recorded 67 million in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
372 million people witnessed China’s table tennis team’s success in claiming the four gold medals at Rio 2016. Their men’s team semi-final rally with South Korea attracted 13.3 million unique viewers.
Here are the recorded high viewership among other countries:
5. Japan: 27.8 million viewers
- United States: 27.8 million viewers
- Brazil: 23,100,000 million viewers
Of the 67 million viewers in Europe, 4.1 million watched Oceania’s coverage. It totaled 471 air time, with 13.5% being international viewers.
6. 3.9% of Germans showed interest in table tennis.
One of the most interesting sports among Germans is table tennis, with 3.9% interested in the sport in 2020, 4.2% in 2019, and 4.3% in 2018.
Their interest in table tennis started when Jorg Rosskopf and Steffen Fetzner won the World Championship Doubles Team in 1989.
The creation of the table tennis department of the world-renowned Borussia Dortmund sports club in 2004 also made history for Germany’s table tennis.
7. Weibo gained 625,000 followers in 2019, comprising table tennis fans.
It is no secret that table tennis catches the attention of fans across the Asian continent, and the proof is in the ITTF’s ever-increasing Chinese social media figures.
New Weibo followers brought the 2019 total to over 2.35 million, with 435 million video views and 2 million engagements. Other platforms also experienced a surge in online activities:
- WeChat: 2.8 million video views
- Toutiao.com: 14 million video views
- Tencent Video: 12 million video views
8. Air time on Chinese Central Television went from 3,145 hours in 2018 to 6,911 hours in 2019.
Fans worldwide saw an 8.2% increase in air time on CCTV, watching their favorite games. Here are the five most-watched table tennis events:
- World Championships (220 million)
- Team World Cup (175 million)
- China Open (110 million)
- Men’s World Cup (105 million)
- Japan Open (101 million)
Table Tennis Viewership Demographic Statistics
Boys and girls under 15 (cadets) and 18 (juniors) can compete in local, regional, national, and international competitions. Men and women also compete in singles, doubles, and team events.
With 240 associate clubs and 8,000 members in the US, 300 million players worldwide, and China’s third most popular sport, table tennis is a favorite activity for children and adults.
Know more about the demographic scope of table tennis below.
9. Millennial fans were more inclined to Instagram’s table-tennis-related content.
With 124,557 views, millennials cannot hide their amazement at how fast the ball exchange is in table tennis. Among their favorite videos are Japan stars 5-year-old Mima Ito and Koki Niwa’s spectacular shots.
The No Look, No Way return of serve by Puerto Rican star Adriana Diaz hit 480,973 views and 141,439 minutes, equivalent to 3 months and 2 days total viewing time.
10. At age 5, people in England started participating in table tennis.
(Table Tennis England)
England is home to table tennis. People of most ages and genders enjoy the sport and play at least twice or any time of the week.
Here is England’s table tennis participation:
- Adults (aged 16+): 222,800 (0.5% of the population)
- 143,000 men (0.6% of the male population)
- 79,400 women (0.3% of the female population)
- 279,200 children in school Years 1-11 (3.8% of the population)
- 188,100 boys in school Years 1-11 (5.0% of the population)
- 87,200 girls in school Years 1-11 (2.4% of the population)
11. Ages 30 to 49 watched the table tennis broadcast in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Of China’s 372 million viewership, 13.3 million unique viewers tuned in for the Men’s Team semi-final contest when China played against Korea.
The number of viewers from other countries is shown below:
- Japan: 27.8M
- US: 24.9M
- Brazil: 23.1M
- India: 22M
471.4 hours of table tennis consumed among ages 30-49, with an equal split between genders.
12. Female audiences were 22% more impressed with table tennis than 12% of male audiences at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
More females witnessed China’s Women’s Team beating Japan for the fourth time, maintaining their perfect record in Olympic history.
WTT’s official channels gained 270,000 followers. Weibo had 100 million impressions and 300,000 engagements, while Douyin had 200 million video views and 3 million engagements.
Table Tennis Viewership Statistic by Year
Table tennis has flourished since the first public tournaments at Queen’s Hall in London. The first official World Championship took place in 1902.
ITTF and WTT retained and grew their active fanbase, proven by their global sports engagements in the last decade.
As more fans appreciate the sport, let’s look at some of the biggest hits over the years.
13. Three ITTF and World Table Tennis events reached 932 million audiences in 2022.
Table tennis enjoyed a golden October in 2022, with three marquee events recording impressive numbers on television and all digital platforms. The following events in the Beijing 2022 Olympics include:
- ITTF 2022 World Championships Finals Chengdu
- WTT Champions Macao 2022
- WTT Cup Finals Xinxiang 2022
The events broadcasted in 135 countries reached 2.25 billion viewers, with 255 million unique viewers watching at least one of the events.
14. In 2019, itTV and ITTF’s official online streaming platforms gained 69% in consumption.
The online streaming platforms satisfied the growing demand for live table tennis in HD. The itTV’s 327,231 new subscribers accounted for 16.6 million registered sessions over the year.
ITTF.com also marked 4.6 million users, which accounted for 22 million sessions and over 50 million unique page views. Over 2.6 million users accessed the website on mobile rather than desktop and tablet.
15. Youtube registered over 1 million video views and 14 million impressions in 2019.
Fans watched the epic semi-final highlights of China’s Ma Long taking on Japanese prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto at the ITTF World Tour Platinum China Open. Ma Long’s victory was crucial for the record-breaking title of his career.
‘The Dragon’ against Fan Zhendong was also a highlight at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup final, hitting 109,339 hours or equating to 12 years and 4 months.
16. The 1994 Qatar Open exhibition match was the best-performing video in 2019, with 150 million Facebook views.
While there can be no surprise that star players will always attract extra attention, fans also consider the archive footage.
The eye-catching trick shots on the show got fans discussing the video for 9,686,126 minutes – that’s 18 years and 4 months’ worth of watch time.
17. 1.41 billion unique viewers watched the 2019 WTT Championships, World Cups, and World Tour on Chinese Central Television.
Despite the growing over-the-top streaming platforms and mobile video, 89% of viewers were on Chinese Central Television (FTA) to watch international table tennis stars’ intense rallies and technical skills.
18. In 2018, 41.9% of China’s population watched Table Tennis on TV.
Of the 539 million unique viewers over the year, 450 million watched any events organized by the ITTF. The games accumulated a 2.55 billion reach and 768.45 million viewers on CCTV-5, seeing the sport’s popularity nationwide.
Compared to 2017, numbers increased from 1.92 billion reach and 603.72 million audiences, while total air time rose from 294 to 321 hours in 2018.
Over the years, table tennis events’ success rewarded digital strategy and efforts to produce engaging content for various audiences across all platforms.
As ITTF and WTT continue to provide unique daily content to their Member Associations and athletes, it’s no doubt it will increase the event’s reach and fans.
Frequently Ask Questions
Where is table tennis most popular?
China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Germany, and Sweden
Why is Table Tennis most popular in China?
Table tennis is popular in China as it is their national sport. It has political, historical, and cultural significance, introducing China to the world.
Why is table tennis popular?
Table tennis is popular because of its simplicity and requires little equipment, and hardly consumes any space.
Why is table tennis less popular in the UK?
Table tennis in the UK has low prize money for tournaments due to the lack of finances. Systems run the sport, and England doesn’t have the best training structure.
Are table tennis and ping-pong the same?
Ping Pong and Table Tennis were used interchangeably. However, due to trademark issues, ITTF used table tennis to create the standardized rules of the sport.
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