BEIJING -- When the Beijing Olympic Games kicked off two weeks ago with a four-hour spectacular, more than 840 million people in China tuned in, perhaps the largest television audience in history for a single event.
The broadcast was the first in a series of Olympic bonanzas for China Central Television, or CCTV, one of the chief propaganda arms of the Chinese state and perhaps also a new global media titan.
Analysts say global corporations seeking a foothold in this potentially huge market have begun to notice CCTV, whose audience is vastly larger than every major television network in the United States and Europe combined.
So, while NBC is celebrating average prime-time audiences of 29 million viewers in the United States, CCTV is smashing ratings records everywhere. The opening ceremony had an average audience of nearly half a billion people, and 842 million watched at least a minute of it, according to CSM Media Research, based here.
More than 80 percent of Chinese households have tuned in to some broadcasts, guaranteeing the $2 billion company a huge pot of advertising gold.