This year’s China Open ended with Novak Djokovic’s 6th Championship at the event in Beijing. As one of the biggest tennis competitions in China, what was the reaction on Chinese social media? Below are a four digital insights from the competition.
Tennis more popular than basketball… There were three trending hashtags for the China Open, all of which were promoted by Weibo Events that has over 20 million followers. The total number of reads of these hashtags exceeded 259 million, more than twice of the exposure of the hashtag for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
Engage your China online fan base There are 13 major tennis players active on Weibo, meaning that the Chinese fans can follow and engage with their favorite players. During the China Open, the most popular players online were are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Garbiñe Muguruza, not surprising that these three all reached their respective finals. However, since Novak was the only one of the three with his own Weibo account and actively interacting with his Chinese fans on this platform, it’s easy to see how he more than 60% more popular than Nadal in online discussions, and almost 10x higher than Muguruza.
Women are your biggest fans Interestingly, it was female fans who were discussing the China Open the most online. Over 55% of online discussions were from female users, compared to 45% from male users. The huge popularity of foreign male players in China is a key driver behind this trend, with female fans taken a bigger interest in the player than the sport. It’s therefore extremely important for the tennis stars that are online to tailor their digital content for this demographic, and leverage their popularity amongst female fans.
Celebrities in attendance still make the news The China Open successfully launched an offline KOL campaign around the event, inviting local Chinese celebrities to the match as honoured guests. This included Deng Chao, an actor with 36 million Weibo followers and Zou Shiming, China’s most famous boxer, with 4 million followers on Weibo. Novak Djokovic’s first match in Beijing saw the actor flip a coin to pick which side of the court Novak would start on. How does this help to promote the China Open? Celebrities have a massive fan appeal and lead to over 780,000 news stories about this event.