Australian Open 2018 was launched in Shanghai today, with organisers unveiling two major new Chinese partners, an extended broadcast deal and a host of new initiatives designed to further entrench the tournament in the hearts and minds of Chinese fans.
During a keynote address at the China Australia-Sports Summit, hosted by AustCham Shanghai, Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley revealed the compelling numbers demonstrating China’s love affair with tennis.
“The massive interest in our event from Chinese fans is a wonderful compliment to the Australian Open, the world’s best players and the city of Melbourne,” Craig Tiley said.
“When asked why we’ve chosen China as a focus for ongoing promotion and commercial opportunities, I can honestly say that due to their love of the sport, China chose tennis, and the Australian Open.
“Consider the following figures: China has 330 million tennis fans; there are 220 million Australian Open fans in China; 14 million regular tennis players and 30,000 tennis courts – a number that’s increasing all the time.”
With a forecast for Chinese tourism numbers to hit four million a year within 10 years, representing a quarter of Australia’s inbound tourism market, Tiley emphasised that it was a natural fit for the Australian Open to focus on the travel industry, and make it as easy as possible for fans to buy tickets and access events.
Australian Open China initiatives were announced at a special launch function as follows:
- China’s leading online travel agency, Ctrip, will provide direct access to Australian Open tickets to Chinese tennis fans – an historic first
- A five-year partnership with premium Chinese brand Ganten
- An extended and expanded broadcast partnership with iQIYI
These latest announcements add to a long list of activity in the region, including:
- Staging of the sixth annual Asia Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Zhuhai (28 November-3 December), with winners awarded a wildcard into the main draw of Australian Open 2018
- Plans to launch Australian Open Academies in China in the next 12 months
- Year-round resources developing rich content for Australian Open WeChat and Weibo channels
- Investment in resources to provide event operations, sports administration education and tennis programming throughout China
- New e-commerce and online retail in China, with fans able to secure their very own piece of the Australian Open
- Building on the Tennis in Schools program which has already been successfully delivered in Shanghai and Chengdu.
One of the biggest strengths of the Australian Open has been the growth of its global TV viewing audience:
- More than 278 million hours of Australian Open broadcast were watched in the Asia-Pacific region
- Massive year-on-year growth in China, more than 59 million people watched AO 2017, up more than 84 percent on AO 2016
- More than 80,000 or 11 percent of AO 2017 attendees, were from overseas with the highest numbers from USA, New Zealand, Japan, UK and China
- The top five viewing audiences by territory were Australia, China, Japan and the US
- China overtook Japan in 2017 to become the number one Asia-Pacific territory by hours viewed
- China was the largest growth in terms of viewing audience by any territory worldwide.
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 39 percent of the global audience share on television.
More than one million people attended Australian tennis events this past summer. Nine hundred million households watched on TV, more than four million people engaged with the Australian Open on social media, 16.3 million users online.