France’s Ligue 1 has continued to make an impact in its key target market of China after Saturday’s Trophée des Champions match was watched by a live audience of 1.8m viewers on state broadcaster CCTV.
The curtain-raiser between Paris Saint-Germain and Rennes in Shenzhen was shown live by sports channel CCTV5+ and the audience was double the figure of 894,000 netted by CCTV for last year’s match between PSG and Monaco (also played in Shenzhen).
The total audience, including replay coverage on CCTV5 and digital coverage on PPTV, was just short of 2.5m, according to figures generated by CMS-Kantar China.
The live audience comfortably exceeds the current record Chinese audience for a Ligue 1 fixture, namely the 1.2m registered by CCTV for the Lyon-Montpellier clash in March. That game was scheduled at 9.30pm locally in China, two hours later than the kick-off time for Saturday’s Trophée des Champions.
More than 18m Chinese viewers watched at least one minute of PSG’s 2-1 win over Rennes, a 47-per-cent increase on the equivalent figure for last year’s match.
French football’s LFP has identified China and USA as its two priority markets in terms of global expansion and the league has intimated its intention to take the Trophée des Champions game stateside in 2020.
The league teamed up with the French Football Federation to open an office in Beijing 18 months ago and has scheduled a 1pm (CET) Ligue 1 game every Sunday from 2020-21 onwards in order to maximise the audience in Asia.
Didier Quillot, the LFP chief executive, told Europe 1 at the weekend: “China is a strategic country for the international development of Ligue 1. We have intensified our presence on social media and we signed a partnership with CCTV, which has a reach of 1bn people.”
According to Quillot, France’s Ligue 1 is now the “third European league” in China in terms of audience, sitting behind the Premier League and LaLiga.
He added: “Things are progressing rather well, the indicators are improving in terms of audience and rights revenue in China.”