ESPN TikTok Credit: ESPN PR

The worldwide leader in sports on Wednesday announced it is also the worldwide leader on TikTok. ESPN put out a press release saying that with more than 41 million followers on TikTok, it is now the vertical video app’s most-followed brand of any kind.

Before breaking into ESPN’s triumph, some quick background.

Technically, TikTok itself is still the most-followed brand on its own platform with 75 million followers. Though TikTok does not maintain formal charts or rankings, it appears ESPN’s breakthrough came when it passed the French football club Paris Saint-Germain. Kylian Mbappe’s side has 40.9 million followers.

Others near ESPN’s stratosphere include Netflix with nearly 36 million and Barstool Sports with around 33 million.

“It’s exciting to see how we’ve been able to successfully connect with the next generation of sports fans,” said ESPN social media strategist Omar Raja in the press release. “This milestone represents a longstanding goal we set four years ago, and we’re only going up from here.”

Many of ESPN’s most-viewed TikTok videos are not highlights or show clips, but lifestyle content. Some are sports-adjacent, such as a video of Tony Hawk coaching a young girl through a skateboard halfpipe routine. The video has been viewed more than 126 million times.

Others are purely internet trends or workout memes. ESPN has found what works on the platform, which largely attracts younger people who seek out influencer content, entertaining personalities, and real-life moments.

(There’s notable history between these companies. Back in 2020, TikTok was briefly led by former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, who had a lot of ESPN/sports oversight while at that company. Mayer left after three months due to TikTok disputes with the Trump administration, and now chairs DAZN and is consulting for Disney through his Candle Media company (alongside fellow ex-Disney exec Tom Staggs. And this January, amidst discussions of U.S. regulation of TikTok, two members of Congress sent a letter to ESPN asking them to end a deal where TikTok sponsored some bowl halftime shows.)

ESPN recently began streaming The Pat McAfee Show live on TikTok daily as well. The brand clearly has big plans for the platform as it continues beefing up its massively popular account.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.