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U.S. Viewership for Euro 2012 Soccer Tournament up 82 Percent

Mesut Ozil German Soccer - H 2012
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ESPN’s broadcasts of the European championships average more than 1 million viewers per match.

COLOGNE, Germany -- U.S. TV viewers have found their inner soccer fan.

Broadcasts of the UEFA European 2012 soccer championships on ESPN are up dramatically over the 2008 Euro tournament. An average of 784,000 households representing more than 1 million viewers tuned in to the sports network to watch live coverage of each of the first 24 matches in the group stages of Euro 2012. That’s a 79 percent jump in household viewership and an 82 percent hike in total audience figures from coverage of the group stages in the previous Euro championships four years ago.

The Group C showdown between defending European champions Spain and Italy, which ended in a 1-1 draw, was the most-watched match on ESPN, averaging 2.1 million viewers. That was more than watched any of the 2008 Euro games, with the exception of the 2008 final between Germany and Spain, which drew 3.8 million viewers.

ESPN’s Spanish-language sports network ESPN Deportes averaged 161,000 Hispanic households and 228,000 viewers for each of the group-stage matches, an increase of 123 percent and 138 percent, respectively, over the 2008 tournament.

ESPN has pulled out the stops for its live coverage of the tournament, enlisting talent including former English national squad star Steve McManaman, ex-German team captain Michael Ballack and one-time U.S. national squad members Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman as on-air commentators. For its Spanish service, Mario Kempes, part of Argentina’s 1978 World Cup winning side, and Mexico national team member Tato Noriega provide expert commentary.

European soccer drove traffic across ESPN’s digital platforms as well, with an average of 1 million daily viewers and 4.2 million page views a day, a respective increase of 44 percent and 38 percent, for its soccer offerings on ESPNsoccernet and ESPNFC.com. In total, ESPN’s online soccer sites, including ESPNdeportes.com, recorded 52.8 million page views during the group stages of Euro 2012, up 38 percent compared with Euro 2008.

ESPN says 1.7 million unique viewers watched matches on their computers, while the company’s mobile app ESPNsoccernet logged an average of 1.5 million page views a day over the group stages.

The most popular match on the company’s online streaming service ESPN3 was Netherlands vs. Germany, which logged 395,000 unique viewers.

The quarterfinals of the Euro 2012 championships kicks off Thursday with the Czech Republic vs. Portugal from National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.