Germany 2014 in Review: World Cup Fever Grips Country, Shia Shocks Berlinale

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Also, German media giants flexed their muscle with acquisitions abroad, Netflix launched and Sky Deutschland made its moves

The year 2014 was a year of victories in Germany.

The country's soccer team triumphed at the soccer World Cup, the nation's economy plowed forward despite a broader European recession, and Germany's media giants went on a global spending spree.

Even the Berlin Film Festival, while still solidly art-house, was more star-studded than ever, welcoming the likes of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and a paper-bag-wearing Shia LaBeouf.

Here is THR's closer look at the big media and entertainment industry stories of 2014 in Germany:

One Night In Rio
An extra-time goal by 22-year-old German forward Mario Goetze against Argentina in the final of the soccer World Cup was the shot heard around the world in 2014.

Facebook recorded the World Cup final as the top global topic of 2014, beating out Ebola in social media discussions. The match also scored in the TV ratings with a peak 14.2 rating for ABC and EPSN, up 13 percent from the 2010 final in South Africa.

Including Spanish-language Univision, a total of 26.5 million U.S. viewers watched the game. In Germany, the game was the single most-watched TV event of all time, with 34.65 million viewers.

Budapest in Berlin
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's eye-popping romp through Old Europe, got this year's Berlin International Film Festival off to a glitzy start. Berlin's red carpet was full of stars, starting with Budapest's Ralph Fiennes, Murray, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe.

The carpet later in the festival also featured the likes of Clooney, Damon, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman (who attended for the world premiere of Clooney's The Monuments Men) and the sideshow that was LaBeouf with Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. LaBeouf completed his very public meltdown, first storming out of a Nymphomaniac press conference, and then donning a paper bag with the words "I Am Not Famous Anymore" written on it to walk the red carpet.

Budapest and Richard Linklater's Boyhood picked up trophies in Berlin, but it was the Chinese film Black Coal, Thin Ice that went home with the Golden Bear.

The French Takeover
The year 2014 saw another very public collapse in Berlin: that of venerable German film company Senator, which was forced to restructure after booking massive losses. CEO Helge Sasse resigned, and the company eventually merged with French group Wild Bunch.

Another French company, StudioCanal, had a fantastic year in Germany. Rodolphe Buet, head of StudioCanal Germany, extended the company's lucrative Hunger Games-driven output deal with Lionsgate, shuffled his executive team to boost German language production and scored two of the biggest box office hits of the year with The Hunger Games – Mockingjay: Part 1 and StudioCanal-produced kids' film Paddington.

The Germans Are Coming
Bolstered by the still-booming television ad market at home, Germany's media conglomerates began to flex their financial muscle abroad in 2014.

Munich-based ProSiebenSat.1 acquired a majority stake in Say Yes to the Dress producer Half Yard Productions and nabbed equity stakes in two L.A.-based online players, artist networking platform Talenthouse.com and YouTube network Collective Digital Studio.

Meanwhile, Cologne-based competitor RTL Group bought YouTube fashion network StyleHaul and online video advertising firm SpotXChange.

Murdoch's Sky Makes Its Move
After sinking hundreds of millions into German pay TV platform Sky Deutschland, in 2014 Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox saw the company make its first-ever quarterly profit in the third quarter of the year.

Sky Deutschland also made its first Netflix-size bet on programming, joining up with German public broadcaster ARD to bankroll Babylon Berlin, the ambitious period series from Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer.

Topping things off was Fox's mega-deal that saw it selling a majority stake in Sky Deutschland and Italian pay TV company Sky Italia to U.K.-based BSkyB, which was renamed Sky. Fox continues to own a 39 percent stake in Sky. The deal created a European pay TV giant with 20 million subscribers that is now a pan-European player like John Malone's cable giant Liberty Global.

As far as video services go, Netflix also launched in Germany in 2014 and is expected to remain one of the big stories of 2015.

Twitter: @sroxborough

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