Viewership of Fifa World Cup in Europe beats expectations

MUMBAI: Since kicking off last Friday 9 June, the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany has received a strong response not just in terms of stadium attendance but also in terms of television viewership in Europe.

Initial viewing figures have been provided by football governing body Fifa’s and Infront’s research agency Sponsorship Intelligence, from the first three days of play.

In Germany, the ZDF coverage of the tournament's opening game featuring the host nation was watched by 20.13 million, a market share of 76 per cent. It was the most viewed Fifa World Cup opening match in history of German television.

England's opening match against Paraguay reached 84 per cent market share in the UK. 12 million people tuning in BBC One’s coverage, which matched the average for England’s group stage games in 2002. This rating does not include the out-of-home viewing television audience, which is expected to be significant due to the air time of this match which was on Saturday 10 June at 2 pm.

Even countries that were not playing in the time period when the ratings were taken have fared well on the television ratings front. A case in point is France. The first three games broadcast on TF1 have shown much improved ratings on average than all the games in 2002 not featuring France (12).

Netherlands's qualification for the 2006 event (the country failed to qualify in 2002) has helped boost the ratings in the country. Around 5.5 million fans watched the team beat Serbia-Montenegro on NL 2. The market share of 89.4 per cent, was well over half more than tuned into the 2002 final.

In Poland, the audience for the game against Ecuador surpassed the 2002 top TVR which involved the final. Poland's opening game got a TVR of 25.7 versus 25.3 for the 2002 Brazil versus Germany final. The match was covered by TVP 1.

In Portugal the team's efforts against Angola drew 2.9 million viewers (a market share of 81 per cent). This was over 30 per cent higher than the top rated audience four years ago. In Norway England's game against Paraguay on TV 2 attracted a market share of 81 per cent .

At the moment, the assessment of the viewing patterns is based on 'overnights' and audiences could be significantly higher once “out of home” viewing is added in to the total. This is likely to run at record levels for this World Cup, given the current public viewing trend and the effect of new media options.

Infront Sports and Media will provide further summary highlights of television audience figures worldwide on a regular basis throughout the course of the tournament.

The company is responsible for the worldwide marketing and sales of the broadcast rights to the 2006 Fifa World Cup. It has made the event more widely available than ever before. There are over 500 broadcasters covering the Fifa World Cup and coverage is being provided in virtually every country of the world.

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