German network reels in World Cup audiences

BERLIN — Men’s soccer has long reigned supreme on TV screens in Germany, as elsewhere in Europe. Now women’s soccer is blowing away the competition as well.

More than 9 million viewers tuned into pubcaster ZDF on the afternoon of Sept. 30 to watch the Women’s World Cup final in Shanghai between Germany and Brazil, grabbing a 50.5% market share.

The audience jumped to 11.5 million toward the end of the match, which Germany won 2-0.

Ratings for almost every top international men’s soccer match has surged higher in the last year in the wake of the 2006 World Cup hosted by Germany that further broadened the already hugely popular national game.

Women’s soccer, once seen as the poor relation, has come into its own in recent years.

“The impressive numbers are a reflection of the rising acceptance viewers now have for women’s soccer,” says ZDF sports programming topper Dieter Gruschwitz.

By comparison, another German pubcaster, ARD, was the primetime winner Sept. 30 with part one of a two-part drama “Die frau vom Checkpoint Charlie,” starring Veronica Ferres, which had 8.35 million viewers (24% market share).

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