July 13, 2010 / 7:41 AM / 9 years ago

World Cup finale draws 700 million viewers

Spain fans watch the 2010 World Cup final soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands on an outdoor TV screen at the Plaza de Castillo in Pamplona July 11, 2010. REUTERS/Vincent West

COLOGNE, Germany (Hollywood Reporter) - Spanish broadcasters said Ole! to record ratings as nearly 17 million fans watched the country’s one-nil victory over the Netherlands in the finals of football’s World Cup, part of about 700 million viewers estimated to have caught the match on small screens worldwide.

Some 16.8 million Spaniards — 91 percent of the TV audience — caught the highlight of the match, when Andres Iniesta rocketed in the winning goal in extra time giving Spain its first-ever World Cup win. On average 15.6 million people in Spain, 86 percent of the audience, watched on the three channels broadcasting the match, an all-time average record, according to ratings agency Barlovento Comunicacion.

Similarly in the Netherlands, 91 percent of the TV audience tuned into public broadcaster NOS as their Orange-mantled team failed in its third World Cup final. An average of 8.5 million Dutch caught the match, with millions more watching in pubs and public squares across the country. (Spain’s population is 46 million vs. 17 million for the Netherlands.)

Though final figures aren’t available, soccer’s governing body FIFA estimates around 700 million people watched the final live. If that is correct, the match would beat out the estimated 600 million that caught the opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and would be on par, or slightly above, the 700 million that watched the World Cup final four years ago.

Certainly the game proved a ratings winner across Europe, with 25.1 million Germans, 71% of the audience, watching on ZDF; 18.4 million, or 66 perfect, of Brits catching the game, which was simulcast across BBC1, BBCHD, ITV1 and ITVH; 13.5 million viewers (63.46 perfect) watched on RAI in Italy and 14.1 million French viewers tuning in on TF1 (a 63 perfect share). TF1 and RAI’s results were the best-ever ratings for a soccer game not featuring the national sides.

Whatever the final ratings tally, the World Cup has again proved a month-long audience anchor for local broadcasters. Spain’s Telecinco averaged 10.7 million viewers, a 66.2 percent share, for the eight matches it broadcast. ZDF’s average was 11.37 million, or 51.3 perfect, over 27 games and TF1 7.1 million viewers (40 perfect market share) for the 27 matches it broadcast.

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