More people in China watched the Asian Cup final between China and Japan on television last week than the 2002 FIFA World Cup final, smashing viewing records as roughly 300 million people tuned in.
A staggering 43.1 percent of people watching television in China at peak time on Saturday tuned in at some point to watch China play in their first Asian Cup final in 20 years, market research firm CSM/TSM Sport said in a statement.
China lost to Japan 1-3 in a match fraught with controversial calls. After the game, hundreds of angry Chinese fans blocked traffic on a main road and clashed with police, throwing bottles and burning Japanese flags.
"The Asian Cup has rewritten the record books for sports programming in China," said Vincent Cheung of CSM/TNS Sport.
"No matter what unit of measurement is used, this is the highest performing sports event and has raised the bar for all sports events that take place in the future."
CSM/TNS Sport gathered figures from 24 major cities across China that showed that 18.5 percent of China's population of 1.3 billion watched the whole game, dwarfing the figure of 14.4 percent for the 2002 FIFA World Cup match between China and Brazil.
That World Cup game had been, until last week's Asian Cup semi-final between China and Iran, the highest-rated televised sports broadcast in China, CSM/TNS Sport said.
The domestic television audience for the Asian Cup final and China's semi-final win over Iran were both bigger than that for 2002 FIFA World Cup final, which attracted a rating in China of 13.4 percent and audience share of 28.8 percent.
Rating figures are a percentage of total potential television audience while audience share measures the percentage of audience watching television at a specific time, the firm said.
In Japan, the figures were equally impressive, with 38 percent of all viewers who were watching television on Saturday night tuning in for part of the game, the group said.
It did not say how many people that was.
Source: China Daily/agencies