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Kuala Lumpur: China PR’s win over Korea Republic in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers Final Round on March 23, 2017, which was broadcast live on sports channel CCTV-5 and streamed on PPTV Sports, has recorded a historic high in sports television viewership. 

Data released by CSM Media Research, showed that more than 70 million Chinese watched at least part of the game on television - making it the highest sports audience reach in 2017 and one of the most watched sports programmes on CCTV in China over the past five years.

It was also the most viewed sports programme ever streamed on PPTV Sports, who reported an all-time high live audience of 12.6 million and video views of more than 25 million.

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “Asia is home to the world’s largest football audience and this historic achievement illustrates the strides we are making to achieve the AFC’s Vision and Mission to ensure football remains the most popular sport in the continent.

“The AFC will continue to work with all our Member Associations and broadcast as well as commercial partners to engage with and excite passionate fans across the continent”

Football fans in China were captivated until the last moment, with a peak of 41 million Chinese viewers during the second half as the home side held-off an determined Korea Republic side who were trying to secure at least a point in this exciting qualifying group. 

The average viewing time per viewer was much longer than usual – lasting approximately 50 minutes – with many of them having watched the full game.

This match also drew around 15 million new viewers in China, with social media playing a key role in drumming up viral support. The number of viewers started to increase after Yu Dabao scored a header which gave China a first half lead and kept alive China’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. 

China’s second victory out of 32 attempts against Korea Republic attracted double the viewership from when the two sides met previously in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers Final Round last September in Seoul.

Photo: Lagardère Sports