Spain beats Germany in soccer ratings

88% of Spaniards, 83% of Germans watch semi-final

BERLIN -- Spain's one-nil win over Germany in Wednesday's World Cup semi-final drew record ratings in both territories and the broadcast was a solid performer across Europe.

An average 14.4 million Spaniards -- a jaw-dropping 81% of the viewing public -- tuned in to watch their squad advance to Sunday's final match against Holland, according to figures from TV ratings firm Barlovento Communicacion.

Audience numbers peaked in the closing minutes of the game, with 17.2 million viewers -- an 88.1% market share -- glued to their sets. Spain booked its spot in the final with a goal in the 73rd minute headed in by Carles Puyol.

Of the three Spanish channels broadcasting the contest, free-to-air Telecinco attracted 13.2 million people for a share of 77.3%, while pay channels Canal + and Canal + Liga, racked up audiences of 295,000 (1.7%) and 423,000 (2.5%), respectively.

German fans had little reason to cheer but public broadcaster ARD had to be smiling about the 31.1 million viewers who tuned in, an all-time ratings record for the territory. The figure represents 83.2% of the German viewing public watching TV Wednesday night.

The other semi-final game, Holland's 3-2 victory over Uruguay on Tuesday, smashed ratings records in the Netherlands. A total of 12.3 million Dutch viewers watched their boys in orange on public broadcaster NOS, the largest ever TV audience for the territory and a stunning figure given the country's total population is just 16.5 million.

Semi-final ratings were solid across Europe, even where the home side wasn't competing. Some 11 million French viewers, a 49% share, watched the Spain-Germany match on free-to-air network TF1; 49% of the British audience, or nearly 12 million people, saw Spain's semi-final win on BBC1and BBC HD; in Germany 19.5 million people, a 58% share, caught the Holland-Uruguay match on pubweb ZDF while the same match on Austria's ORF recorded 1.26 million viewers for a 45% share.

Benjamin Jones in Madrid, Mimi Turner in London and Rebecca Leffler in Paris contributed to this report.