Miracles rarely happen twice in a row and after the surprising victory of China vs Korea last week, many fans expected a similar result in Iran….Alas, the score line on March 28 ended the same but the winning goal was for Iran.
However the huge media coverage generated by the rare win of China last week, as well as the expectations raised for another “positive result’’ convinced even more Chinese to tune in on CCTV-5 that night. This is not really a surprise though, as we all know that the interest peaks when results are coming.
China national team has under-performed for years, so as soon as there is a “good news’’, then it quickly translates into string follow-up.
It was already an audience record-high game last week, so it’s again another record as Iran vs China averaged over 30 m viewers every minute (a number rarely seen for a sports game on TV in China), or 25% more than last week (+5.5 m viewers).
Interestingly, as the below minute by minute chart can show you, the viewers remained glued to the game from the near start to the very end. If we exclude the half time, there were 32-33 m viewers every minute with a peak at 35 m for the last 20 min.
Peak viewing happened at 21:50 with 35 million viewers.
Every viewers watched on average 51 min of the game (47 min last week). It’s very rare to see such an average viewing time for a game: as a general rule, average viewing for China football team’s international games is between 20-25 min per viewer. Some watching only a little bit, some more.
Overall 72 m different viewers watched the game even for at least 1 min on CCTV (+ 2 m more than last week).
Thanks to that huge audience (I believe that it will be the Top audience for sports in 2017!), CCTV-5 enjoyed a huge share of viewing with 7.4%: at the time of the game from 20:00-22:00, 407 m Chinese were in front of their TV set on average of which 30 m watching the game!
As you are all very much aware, China is a huge country, and this makes it difficult to compare its audiences in percentage numbers with other countries like Australia, Japan, Korea, etc with less population.
An average audience for that game of 30 m means an average TV rating of 2.34%. On the same day, South Korea vs Syria had a national TV rating of 5.29% while Japan vs Thailand had a rating of around 8% nationwide.
The fact that the ratings or reach in % may look “small’’ in China, as opposed to the total population of the country is due the extreme variety of markets and the difference between urban and rural areas. To make it simple, sports is mostly enjoyed in China by urban parts. But only around 50% of the total Chinese population lives in urban area. The level of economic development also plays a big role: the higher the development, the stronger the interest in sports. Countries like Australia, Korea or Japan have a relatively homogenous population, from a socio-economic perspective; hence there are not that many differences in these countries in the viewing behaviour for sports.
In order to understand better that “’Chinese factor”, let’s have a look at the viewing of the game IRAN vs CHINA, by different cities: in Beijing, which is by far the city with the highest interest in sports, the average rating was 8.5% (nearly 4 times the national average) and the reach jumped to 17% (3 times more than the national average).
In some cities, the turnout was very high: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanning, Wuhan, Hefei, Jinan.
On the other side, in Haikou, most people were “at the beach’’ with only 1% watching the game.
The below table shows the viewing behaviours in a selection of cities. It is not surprising that high viewing cities have higher level of development as well as have already for most of them professional football teams.