German handball clobbers Super Bowl

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COLOGNE, Germany -- In Germany, an obscure sport with a traditionally small fan base clobbered Super Bowl XLI.

When U.S football fans were glued to their sets Sunday, watching the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17, Germans tuned in en mass to watch the home team win the world championships ... at handball.

A total 16.2 million viewers on Sunday watched pubcaster ARD's broadcast of the final game, in which Germany beat favorites Poland 29-24.

It is the first time since 1978 that Germany has won the sport's top honor and almost as long since handball has been popular here.

The rating represents a phenomenal 58.3% market share, the highest ever for a handball game in the territory, beating the record 10.6 million/41.3% share seen Thursday when Germany beat France in the semi-final game.

Handball fever has swept the country as Germany's underdog team added win after win in their march to the final. An average of 7.2 million viewers, representing 31.2% of the audience, saw each of the 10 games featuring the home team.

In contrast, Super Bowl XLI, which also aired live on ARD Sunday, drew a piddling 0.5 million German viewers.

Soccer -- called football here -- is still the all-time ratings king. Some 30 million German viewers -- an astounding 84.1% -- tuned in to the World Cup semi-finals this summer.

Handball still has a way to go before it can boost those kinds of numbers. But compared to the U.S.' top sport, it wins, well, hands down.
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