French research shows Olympics, soccer No. 1

PARIS — Sports and fiction led TV ratings worldwide in 2008, according to a report by French audience research company Mediametrie, unveiled Tuesday at a press conference in Paris.

In a survey of 72 countries, sports programs ranked first in 13 territories thanks to the Beijing Olympic Games and the Euro 2008 soccer tournament.

In Spain, the Euro Cup final that pitted the national team against Germany nabbed 14.5 million viewers for an 80.9 share, a new record in the country.

In Germany, the semi-final between Germany and Turkey topped pubcaster ZDF’s ratings, snatching 29.5 million viewers, just below the record 29.6 million for the Italy-Germany FIFA World Cup semifinal in 2006.

Fiction also dominated 2008, taking a 68 share in the 72 countries.

U.S. procedurals “CSI” and “CSI: Miami,” Colombian format “Ugly Betty” and Russian shows “Tatyana’s Day” and “And Still I Love” were the most watched fictions worldwide, each appearing in the top 10 ranks of shows in four countries.

British reality program “Strictly Come Dancing” (known as “Dancing With the Stars” in the U.S. and other countries) was the best format export, appearing in the top 10 of 12 countries — way ahead of its nearest rival “Idols,” which appeared in six countries’ top 10 lists.

The Gallic research company also noted growing TV trends in 2009 in its “One Television Year in the World” report.

Those trends include the move toward horror reality programs, such as “13: Fear Is Real” from the U.S.; environmental reality shows like the U.K.’s “Help ! I’m No Bigger Than a Bug” and Australia’s “Guerrilla Gardeners”; therapy-driven reality shows like Spain’s “La Caja”; and docu soaps dealing with social issues such as Spain’s “21 Dias” or the U.K.’s “Boys and Girls Alone.”

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