World Cup: Germany's Last Minute Win Drives Ratings Boost

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Nearly 27.5 million German fans tuned in as the defending world champions squeak by Sweden 2-1.

Drama has been ratings magic at this year's World Cup and it was no different Saturday, as defending champions Germany narrowly avoided elimination with a last-minute goal to beat Sweden 2-1 and keep the hopes of “Die Mannschaft” alive.

Approximately 27.48 million German viewers tuned in to public broadcaster ARD to watch the match, an impressive 76.6 percent market share. That's 1.5 million more than caught the first Germany game on June 17, which saw Mexico surprise with a 1-0 upset win. But the larger audience had likely as much to do with the fortunate timing of the Sweden match, which was broadcast at 8 p.m. Germany time, compared to the late-afternoon airing of the Mexico game.

After a slow start, the World Cup has enjoyed strong ratings across the board, helped by several surprise results, with tournament favorites, including Brazil, Argentina and Germany, struggling to get results. Mexico's defeat of Germany was seen by 4.5 million viewers on Fox Sports in the U.S., making it the most-watched men's soccer game ever on the channel. Telemundo, the NBCUniversal-owned network that has Spanish-language rights for the World Cup stateside, attracted 6.56 million viewers for the match, its best Sunday daytime audience ever.

Through the first round of games, however, U.S. viewership is down around 44 percent compared to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to data from Nielsen. But that drop was largely expected, with less-favorable broadcast times for the 2018 event in Russia and with no U.S. team to support.