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ARD scores with England match

Soccer produces 43% audience share

BERLIN — The age-old soccer rivalry between England and Germany helped ARD score an average 43% share when the national teams clashed Wednesday, according to figures released Thursday.

Even though it was only a “friendly” and had no bearing on qualification for the Euro 2008 tournament, the match pulled in an average 12.51 million viewers and a peak of 14.36 million (58% share), even though the kick-off wasn’t until just after 9 p.m. in Germany, an impressive tally for an ostensibly meaningless late August match during the holiday season.

The sterling ratings made it the most watched broadcast in Germany of the summer and, ahead of the looming negotiations for Bundesliga broadcast rights later this year, underscored soccer’s unrivalled drawing power on television.

Few matches elicit as much interest in either country as the England-Germany encounters as the two countries have played some of the most classic soccer battles ever seen in the latter stages of major tournaments over the last 40 years.

They’re especially popular in Germany because England is the one major soccer power that they seem to be able to beat regularly.

They won Wednesday’s match, played at the new Wembley stadium in London, by a slender margin — 2-1.

Germany also won the final match played at the old Wembley stadium in 2000, before it was torn down. They went on to lose or draw in the next 18 matches against so-called “major world powers,” such as Brazil, Argentina, France and Italy.

Germany has beaten England six times at Wembley since 1972, more than any other country.

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