World Cup continues to deliver ratings

Euro channels nab near-record ratings on quarterfinals

COLOGNE, Germany -- European broadcasters carrying the soccer World Cup continue to rack up near-record ratings as the tournament heads into its final week.

The three European squads still in the running -- Germany, Spain and the Netherlands -- proved a sure bet for local networks in their quarterfinal matches.

Germany's ZDF scored an all-time-record 89.2% market share with its broadcast of the German team's 4-0 drubbing of Argentina on Saturday. 26 million viewers tuned in for the afternoon match, a figure that does not include fans who saw the game on pay TV outlet Sky Deutschland (which does not publish rating results) and the millions more who crowed outdoor viewing sites across the country. A ZDF survey taken at the beginning of the world cup found some 12 million Germans watch World Cup games outside their homes.

But ratings in neighboring Holland put ZDF's performance to shame. 11.2 million Dutch viewers (in a population of just over 16 million) tuned in to catch the home side's come-from-behind 2-1 victory over soccer giants Brazil. That represented an astounding 92.9% market share for public broadcaster NOS. Unlike most European channels, NOS measures out-of-home viewing for World Cup matches.

In Spain, almost 11 million people watched their team squeak through to the semi-finals with its 1-0 win over Paraguay on Saturday, capturing a 78% share of the audience among the three channels broadcasting the event.

Free-to-air Telecinco attracted 10.2 million viewers (73.2% share) while pay channels Canal + Liga and Canal + garnered 380,000 and 312,000 fans, respectively.

"The "golden minute" arrived at 10:10 p.m. just after striker David Villa fired in the decisive goal with 13.3 million people tuned in, representing an audience share of 87.7%, according to ratings firm Barlovento Comunicacion.

Viewer figures are likely to climb even higher for this week's semifinals. The Netherlands play Uruguay on Tuesday and Germany meets Spain Wednesday.

Benjamin Jones in Madrid contributed to this report.
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