England’s European Qualifying match against Greece attracted a record 2.2 million unique viewers to the live broadcast on TheSPORTbible Facebook page.

Breaking new ground for both rightsholder and broadcaster, the full fixture was broadcast exclusively digitally, achieving viewing figures which surpass many major televised football fixtures.

The audience figures establish clearly for the first time the market for stream-only sports events, reaching an audience demographic of millennials which mainstream broadcasters have found increasingly difficult to engage with.

The stream-only broadcast marks a first both for sports governing bodies in England and digital publisher TheSPORTbible (whose reach of 100m a week makes it more popular than both the Daily Mail and the Guardian websites).

Mark Taffler, Head of Commercial at Table Tennis England, believes that the broadcast could pave the way to a whole new market for sports rights.

He said:

“We’ve proved that there is a market for this kind of broadcast – and that it’s a big market. By broadcasting through TheSPORTbible we’ve bypassed the traditional sports rights market and gone to where the audience is. As a strategy, it’s proved incredibly effective.

“The same night as Man City were playing Barcelona in the Champions League, there were 2.2m people watching table tennis. There is an appetite from people to watch our sport and, through a platform like The SPORTbible, we are finding them.”

The broadcast attracted the attention of the national media, with a feature in the business section of The Times, while the BBC’s sports editor Dan Roan posted about it on Twitter.