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Germany vs. Netherlands Euro 2012 Soccer Game Scores Record Ratings

Mario Gomez - H 2012
Getty Images

More than 35 million viewers in the two countries tune in for the grudge match.

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany vs. The Netherlands is arguably the biggest rivalry in international soccer, and it translated to record ratings when the two teams met Wednesday night in the first round of the Euro 2012 Championships.

in Germany, 27.2 million viewers tuned in to public broadcaster ZDF to watch their side defeat the Dutch 2-1 and all but guarantee that the German team will advance to the quarterfinals. The figure -- representing 75 percent of the viewing audience on the night -- was a record for a first-round match at the Euros. In the key 14-49 demographic, a jaw-dropping 80 percent of the audience watched the game.

Across the border, 8 million Dutch watched their team lose their second Euro 2012 match. That translated to a market share of 83.2 percent for pubweb Netherlands 1, also a record for a first-round game at the European Championships. In fact, the last time so many Dutch watched their national side in a Euro tournament was the 2004 semifinals, when 8.5 million Oranje fans tuning in saw The Netherlands go down to Portugal 2-1. 

Ratings figures were helped by the fact that Germany vs. Netherlands was a midweek game and that cold weather kept many fans home instead of out in the pubs and public viewing areas across the two countries. On weekends and warm evenings, millions cram these public viewings, but they are not counted in official ratings figures.

But the numbers showed that international soccer has lost none of its audience appeal. The European Championships actually appear to be growing in popularity. ZDF’s audience figures were just below the 27.9 million who tuned in two years ago to watch the German team in the first round of the FIFA World Cup, the biggest sporting event worldwide. Ratings for the Dutch game on Netherlands 1 were not far off the 8.5 million that watched the 2010 World Cup final between The Netherlands and Spain, which ended with a 1-0 victory for Spain and the highest-ever rating for a sports broadcast in Holland. 

The German-Dutch rivalry proved a strong ratings draw even among neutral nations. In the U.K., for example, up to 9.8 million viewers, a 40 percent share, watched the match on the BBC.

Broadcasters attempting to program opposite the soccer had even less chance of victory than the Dutch side. The best performer in The Netherlands was the drama series Whitechapel, with a measly 379,000 viewers on Netherlands 2. Leading German commercial network RTL drew just 4.5 percent market share in the 14-49s for the last episode of its entertainment show Typical Man, Typical Woman.