The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has revealed television audiences watching this year's AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage have greatly improved reaching record levels.
The AFC claimed that cumulative figures were up 46 per cent on 2011, with Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande's success in reaching the final eight having a significant boost on numbers.
China has contributed a total of 105 million viewers throughout the 2012 ACL so far despite only three clubs competing, which is already 47 million ahead of the cumulative amount for the whole of the 2011 edition where only Tianjin Teda reached the final 16.
Guangzhou Evergrande's popularity in China is highlighted by the fact the top five most-watched games in the Middle Kingdom have involved them.
The Chinese champions Round of 16 clash with FC Tokyo was the most watched game, with a total audience close to 59 million, while on average 13.5 million tuned in in China.
“I am happy that the AFC Champions League viewership continues to increase and this is because of the well-planned and intense efforts of the AFC to raise the quality of play on the pitch as well as the all-round tournament standards,” AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong said in a statement.
“The rise in television audience numbers also underlines our belief that we are headed in the right direction as far as the continent’s premier club competition is concerned.
"This is good news for all our sponsors too as their brands get maximum visibility and exposure in Asia.”