Hong Kong: Guangzhou Evergrande’s historic AFC Champions League victory at the weekend attracted the largest TV audience for a sporting event in China this year, with an average audience totalling over 30 million watching as Marcello Lippi’s side edged out FC Seoul.
With a crowd of 55,847 inside Tianhe Stadium as Guangzhou shared a 1-1 draw to claim the title on away goals following a 3-3 draw on aggregate, the second leg drew an average audience of 23.68 million viewers on CCTV-5.
And with several other channels in China also showing the game live, the match attracted the highest average audience in China since the 2004 AFC Asian Cup final at over 30 million viewers.
In total, the 2013 AFC Champions League has achieved a combined average rating of 280 million, with a combined reach of 1.37 billion.
“The final of the AFC Champions League is the pinnacle of club football in Asia and these record TV audience figures highlight the popularity of the competition and the desire for fans to watch in ever increasing numbers,” said Dato’ Alex Soosay, General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation.
“This year’s AFC Champions League, which culminated in Guangzhou’s victory at the weekend, has been a huge success both on and off the field and has highlighted the impressive growth of the competition.
“With the draw for the 2014 AFC Champions League set to take place at the start of December, planning is already underway to ensure the competition continues to flourish next year and in the seasons beyond.”
With the game also reaching a total audience of 68.19 million on CCTV-5, the total reach for the second leg of the final across all channels was nearly 120 million.
Guangdong Satellite, meanwhile, generated an average reach of 2.11 million, with a total reach of 36 million; while Guangdong Sports drew an average audience of 3.03 million with a total reach of close to 10 million.
“If we set aside the FIFA World Cup and football matches at the Olympics, the second leg of the AFC Champions League final attracted the highest football audience on TV in China for nearly a decade on CCTV-5 alone,” said CSM Media Research KantarSport Managing Director Pierre Justo.
“And again excluding the recent coverage of the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup which was in some cases aired at prime time in China, this year’s AFC Champions League final has clearly become one of the top sporting events on TV in China in last decade and is clearly a benchmark for the future.
“The figures for Guangdong Satellite are impressive as it is very rare for this particular channel to air a sporting event, while the total reach achieved by Guangdong Sports is two times higher than its previous best football audience of the year.
“The second leg of the final also attracted massive numbers of viewers on local channels in Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Shanghai.”
Nick Mould, President, East Asia, World Sport Group, hailed the viewing figures as a further sign of the growing commercial opportunities associated with the AFC Champions League.
“Record TV viewing figures and a total attendance figure totalling over 110,000 across both legs of the final represents significant value for our commercial partners,” said Mould.
“Football in Asia has witnessed consistent growth in recent years, and with this year’s AFC Champions League culminating in such a spectacular fashion following thrilling exhibitions of Asian football in both Seoul and Guangzhou, commercial opportunities associated with the competition will continue to grow.”