Fifa finals get a record audience in Europe

MUMBAI: Football's governing body Fifa's marketing agency Infront has announced that the viewing audiences in Europe for the key final matches of the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany exceeded predictions and broke records.

Infront says that the high in-home audience figures are even more impressive in comparison to past viewing, given today’s fragmented television market. There was also a lot of out-of-home viewing.

Italy - The Italian team’s penalty shoot out triumph over France in the final attracted a new tournament - and recent history - record audience for Italian television. An average audience of 23.9 million in Italy watched the Azzurri win the golden trophy for the 4th time in history. The figure represented 84 per cent of Italians that were watching television at that time. Italy’s top rated match during the 1998 event was 23.5 million. During the 2002 event, it was 23.7 million.

The record figure of 23.9 million does not include the large number of Italians who watched the games out of home at public viewing events, bars and restaurants. For example, at the capital city's ancient Circus Maximus, a reported 200,000 fans watched the final on three giant screens. In Milan, a further 150,000 fans watched the victory on large screens in the Piazza del Duomo.

France - In France, national broadcaster TF1, attracted 22.1 million French viewers to its coverage of the Final between Italy and France. This figure represented over 80% of the available TV audience at that
time, the highest audience share of any French coverage of this year’s tournament.

France’s defeat on a penalty shoot out was endured by 800,000 more French viewers compared to the 1998 final when France triumphed over Brazil.

Germany - The German national side’s impressive progress through the event drew a consistently high television audience at home in the host nation and ended with a new record for the tournament - past and
present – despite millions watching out-of-home at public sites.

Germany’s 2-0 loss to Italy in the semi-finals was watched live by 29.7 million viewers at home in the host nation, scoring a market share of 84.1 per cent. Germany’s previous highest audience at this tournament was the 24.8 million who watched the side defeat Argentina in the quarterfinals.

The figure also beats the German audience in the final in 2002, when 26.5 million witnessed Germany lose to against Brazil. It also surpasses the hitherto unbeaten record in German football viewing of 28.66 million registered for the Germany v Argentina final back in 1990. However that figure does not include the new German states in the east of the country.

The 29.7 million audience also beats the highest German audience (24.4 million for USA v Germany) attained in 1998. As that eevnt was in France, was aired at comparable times to this year’s competition in Germany.

Germany’s six matches this year have scored a combined TV audience on German public service broadcasters ZDF and ARD of 142.1 million, which gives an average of 23.7 million per match. This represents a 45 per cent increase in viewing over 2002.

Neutral viewing - Data from Spain and France shows that the Germany vs Italy match was one of the most popular with 'neutral' viewers - those who watch a match that does not feature their own national side.

In Spain, the match had a combined audience on Cuatro and La Sexta of 5.9 million and a market share of 41.7 per cent. This Spanish audience was also higher than both the “neutral” semi-finals in 2002 but not as high as the 2002 final.

In France, the Germany vs Italy match was shown live on both C+ and TF1 and had a combined audience of 13.3 million and a market share of 57.2 per cent. This figure is higher than any audience during the 2002 edition when France made an early exit.

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