LONDON — TV ratings records were broken across Europe as huge numbers of people watched Spain’s last-minute victory against Holland in the World Cup soccer tournament.
Spain registered its highest ever TV audience as 15.6 million — an 85.9% audience share — saw the nation’s soccer team win with a last minute goal scored in extra time at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.
Free-to-air broadcaster Telecinco snagged 14.6 million eyeballs, a channel record.
The figures for Canal Plus’s core channel were 517,000 while dedicated soccer service Canal Plus Liga drew 506,000 viewers.
Spain’s previous biggest TV ratings were for the Euro 2008 penalty shoot-out against Italy when 14.1 million viewers tuned in to commercial web Cuatro.
In Holland 8.5 million viewers — a 90.6% share — watched the drama unfold on Nederland 1.
When the number of people who followed the final on Dutch public screens is factored in — figures not released until later this week — a new national record is likely to be set.
In soccer-mad Blighty, in excess of 18 million viewers watched the last game in the 2010 World Cup, covered simultaneously by pubcaster BBC1 and private web ITV1.
As is commonplace on these occasions, the BBC won hands down.
More than four out of five viewers choose the BBC’s advertising-free soccer in preference to the ITV alternative.
The BBC’s audience was 15.1 million (a 54% share), compared with 3.3 million (a 12% share) for the commercial rival.
In Germany 25.1 million people tuned in on ZDF, an audience share of 71.4%.
This figure was significantly smaller than the number who watched the previous week’s semi-final between Germany and Spain.
Then a new TV ratings record for Germany was achieved when 31.3 million people watched, an 83.2% share.
In France, the World Cup final took a record 63% share as 14.1 million viewers watched on TF1.
This was the network’s third most popular broadcast of 2010.
In Italy, whose national team failed to qualify for the knock-out stages despite being World Cup winners in 2006, the final attracted 13.4 million viewers (a 61% audience share), split between RAI and Sky Italia.
i>John Hopewell, Emiliano de Pablos, Ian Mundell, Erik Kirschbaum, Elsa Keslassy and Nick Vivarell contributed to this story. /i>