Euro 2012: Neutral Fans Boost Ratings For Portugal v Czech Quarter Final

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Nearly 14 million watch the match on German TV, while in the U.K. more than 10 million tune in.

COLOGNE, Germany – The first quarter-final match of the Euro 2012 soccer championships featured two of the smaller nations competing in the tournament – Czech Republic v Portugal – but neutral fans from neighboring nations ensured the game still topped the Euro ratings list.

13.9 million German viewers, a 45.6 percent market share, watched Portugal and star player Cristiano Ronaldo defeat the Czech Republic 1-0 and book their place in the Euro semi-finals. For German public broadcaster ZDF, it was the highest-rated match of this year’s Euros where the German national squad wasn’t playing.

In the U.K., Czech v Portugal won the night for BBC One, with viewership peaking at more than 10 million viewers. An average audience of 7.9 million, or 34 percent, watched the full two-hour match.

The game drew strong, if not outstanding, numbers in other major European territories as well. In Italy, 7.57 million viewers, a 33 percent share,  watched the match on both free-to-air and payTV; 5.9 million viewers, a 24 percent share, tuned in on France’s M6; while 5.8 million, just under 40 percent of the night’s TV audience, watched the game in Spain on Telecinco.

The three remaining quarterfinals - Germany v Greece, Spain v France and England v Italy – are expected to draw larger audiences, due to their strong home markets.

The Germany – Greece match, in particular, has been getting substantial media coverage across Europe ahead of its Friday night kick-off. In the midst of the European debt crisis, TV channels and newspapers across the continent are playing up the show-down between Europe’s largest creditor (Germany) and its biggest debtor (Greece).

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