Record Ratings for First Euro 2012 Soccer Semifinal

Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta
Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta
 PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images

COLOGNE, Germany – Spain’s nail-biting victory over Portugal in the first semifinal match of the Euro 2012 soccer championships Wednesday night drew record ratings across the continent.

Telecinco smashed the all-time audience record in Spain when more than 19 million Spaniards, a whopping 87.3 percent share of people watching TV at the time, tuned in for the final moments of the match when the Spain and Portuguese teams faced off in a penalty tie breaker.

The game’s 30 minutes of overtime became Spain’s second most watched broadcast ever, with just under 16.5 million viewers and a 77.1 percent share. On average, 83.3 percent of the Spanish viewing audience, or 18.14 million people, caught the entire game.

The semifinal match racked up impressive numbers across Europe, with 19.64 million, or 62 percent of the TV audience, tuning in to Germany’s ZDF. The figure was a record for a Euro 2012 match that didn’t involve the German squad.

France’s M6 scored 8.8 million viewers, a 39 percent share and also a record for a soccer game not involving the home side. The ratings figure was the 5th best in the channel’s history. In Italy, the match drew 11.2 million viewers across free and payTV, a 47.8 percent share of the total audience for the night.

After England’s national side was knocked out in the quarterfinals, a local tabloid asked “anyone for tennis?” on its front page, suggesting sports fans switch over to watching the Wimbledon championships.

But the Euro 2012 soccer pitch still beat out the esteemed grass courts as BBC One’s live broadcast of Portugal versus Spain drew a peak audience of 13.5 million, or a 55.9 percent share. An average of 10.2 million Brits, or 43 percent of the viewing public, watched the entire match, which lasted more than 2 hours.

Wimbledon coverage on BBC Two drew a comparatively meager 1.4 million, or 8 percent, of the audience for the same night.

Pamela Rolfe in Madrid, Eric J. Lyman in Rome and Rebecca Leffler in Paris contributed to this report.

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