ACL final set to attract record TV viewers

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Viewing figures for the 2nd leg of the AFC Champions League finals are set to reach new heights.

Viewing figures for the 2nd leg of the AFC Champions League finals are set to reach new heights.

Viewing figures for the AFC Champions League are set to reach new heights next week with the second leg of the 2013 final between Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul on course to attract the highest sporting audience in China this year.

Last week's first leg at Seoul World Cup Stadium averaged 17.42 million viewers in China, which ranks as the second highest this year for a sports event.

CCTV-5 contributed 14.83 million viewers to the average live audience, with the match now the highest rated football audience on the channel this year and third highest overall for a sports event.

"Once again, as we have seen consistently throughout recent years, the popularity of the AFC Champions League continues to grow," said Dato' Alex Soosay, General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation.

"We have witnessed significant growth in television audiences for the AFC Champions League this season and we expect this trend to continue.

"The TV audience figures reflect the desire for football fans in Asia to watch Asian club football in increasing numbers, and coupled with rising attendances, this highlights the impressive growth of the competition."

With the 2-2 draw being played in front of a 55,501 crowd in the Korean capital which was FC Seoul's highest attendance of the season in any competition, the game also reached a total of 62.62 million viewers across six channels in China.

"This is truly a great TV rating, especially with the game starting in China earlier than prime time due to the time difference with Korea," said CSM Media Research KantarSport Managing Director Pierre Justo.

"I am now confident that the return leg will most likely become this year's highest sports audience on CCTV-5 and across all networks."

Compared to other matches in the AFC Champions League this year, the average viewer figure in China for the first leg was 43% higher than the previous best which was recorded for Guangzhou's semi-final second leg win over Japan's Kashiwa Reysol earlier this month.

"The success of Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League over the last two years has contributed significantly to the impressive growth of the competition and the commercial opportunities associated with that level of improvement," said Nick Mould, President, East Asia for World Sport Group.

"And with a sell-out crowd expected inside the stadium for the second leg of the final, we are eagerly anticipating record TV viewing figures following the huge interest already shown in the competition this year."

The Marcello Lippi-coached Guangzhou are looking to hand China a first continental title since Liaoning in 1990, while FC Seoul are seeking to keep the AFC Champions League title in Korean hands for a fourth time in five years.

Sergio Escudero's strike after 11 minutes of the first leg had handed Korean champions FC Seoul the ideal start in front of a lively crowd at Seoul World Cup Stadium only for Brazilian striker Elkeson to equalise 16 minutes before half-time with his fifth goal in as many AFC Champions League games.

China international Gao Lin then added to the Brazilian's header a minute before the hour mark only for Montenegrin striker Dejan Damjanovic to rifle home inside the final 10 minutes to leave the tie finely balanced ahead of the decisive second leg next Saturday at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium.

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