China TV expects 10 billion to tune in for finals

June 9, 2006

BEIJING, June 9 (Reuters) - China's state television service CCTV is expecting an audience of 10 billion for their World Cup coverage, even though most of the matches will take place in the middle of the night and the national team failed to qualify.

'It's difficult to tell how many people in China will watch the World Cup,' an official from CCTV sports centre told state news agency Xinhua. 'But judging from my experience, the accumulative amount of audience will be more than 10 billion.'

World soccer's governing body FIFA reckon the last World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea attracted an aggregate global television audience of 28.8 billion.

More than 250 million Chinese watched the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany and CCTV are offering blanket coverage and multiple replays of the 63 matches this time around.

Another producer of CCTV said as the station would be broadcasting matches non-stop for 24 hours, an audience of 10 billion would 'not be surprising at all'.