Billions have eyes on Cup

Kickoff draws 1.5 bil viewers

An estimated 1.5 billion viewers around the world tuned in for Germany’s 4-2 victory over Costa Rica as the World Cup got under way Friday in Munich.

A cumulative worldwide TV aud of 32.5 billion viewers is expected to follow the 64 games during the four-week soccer championship in Germany — a 10% boost from 2002’s World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

In Germany, nearly 10 million viewers caught the Argentina-Ivory Coast game Saturday night, giving ARD a 39.5% share. The World Cup is airing in high-definition for the first time on paybox Premiere and in standard resolution on pubcasters ARD and ZDF.

Millions of international soccer fans have descended on Germany for the biggest public event in the country’s history. In Berlin, more than half a million people watched on large public screens throughout the city. Some 65,000 spectators thronged Munich’s new Allianz Arena for Friday’s opening game.

Crowds also were out in force Saturday for England’s 1-0 win over Paraguay in Frankfurt, while in Nuremberg, some 1,200 people demonstrated against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ahead of Sunday’s Iran/Mexico match. Waving Israeli flags, protesters attacked Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric and denial of the Holocaust.

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