World Cup: Luis Suarez Performance Takes Big Bite Out of Italian Audience

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Uruguay's controversial 1-0 win over Italy is a ratings hit while British audiences slump for England's final match.

Luis Suarez and his Uruguayan squad's 1-0 win over Italy was a ratings hit in Europe, not least because of the controversy late in the match when Suarez apparently bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Some 17 million Italian viewers saw the now-infamous bite on public broadcaster Rai, a 68 percent market share. Soccer governing body FIFA is investigating Suarez over the bite and could ban the star striker for the remainder of the tournament. That will be little consolation to Italian fans, who saw their team eliminated after Tuesday night's defeat. 

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Italy is the third big European squad — after defending champions Spain and winless England — to book an early exit from the World Cup, something that does not bode well for viewership figures in Europe as the Cup enters the second round.

Indeed, audience figures for England's final match against Costa Rica were down sharply, with ITV recording a peak of 9.46 million viewers for the game, a 48.1 percent share. That compares to a peak of 20.29 million and 70.7 percent of the British TV audience that caught England's previous World Cup match, a 2-1 loss to Uruguay.

For European neutrals, Italy vs. Uruguay was the pick of the night: 10.39 million German viewers, good for a 47.3 percent share, caught the match on public broadcaster ZDF; 5.3 million French, a 35.8 percent share, watched on TF1; and 2.82 million Dutch fans, or 38.9 percent of the audience, saw Suarez nip Italian World Cup hopes in the, uh, shoulder.

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