World Cup: Germany's Soccer-Less Channels Suffer

German public channels have been riding the World Cup wave, scoring massive audiences for tournament matches.
German public channels have been riding the World Cup wave, scoring massive audiences for tournament matches.
 AP Photo/Martin Meissner,File

The only ones in Germany, it seems, who aren't happy the national squad has qualified for the quarterfinals of the World Cup are the nation's commercial broadcasters.

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June was one of the worst months on record for Germany's private TV networks as audiences abandoned them en masse to watch the soccer, carried exclusively on national public broadcaster ARD and ZDF.

RTL, for decades Germany's market leader, came a distant third in June, with just a 8.4 percent share of the total audience for the month, compared to 17.4 percent for ARD and 17.7 percent for ZDF.

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Even in the key 14-49 advertising demographic, RTL had to settle for bronze, with 10.6 percent market share, against ZDF's 13.4 percent and 14.1 percent for ARD.

It was a similar tale across the commercial nets, though none were as hard hit as RTL, whose broad audience demographic has the most overlap with the public channels. But both Pro7 and Sat.1, Germany's next two largest commercial broadcasters, each dropped a point of audience share compared to June 2013, with just 7.2 percent and 4.6 percent of the nation's viewers watching Sat.1 and Pro7, respectively, last month.

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With close to 30 million Germans catching World Cup matches where the national side is playing – and some 10 million plus watching when they aren't – it's no surprise that the commercial nets are suffering. Indeed, the audience drop was expected and commercial broadcasters pretty much surrendered in advance and did not attempt to fight the soccer with high-profile counter-programming.

Instead, the networks seem to be satisfied to wait until World Cup fever breaks, at the latest after the tournament final July 13.

Email: scott.roxborough@thr.com

Twitter: @sroxborough

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