Besides the French national team, the other champion of the 2018 World Cup tournament is TF1, France’s leading commercial network, which scored record ratings and an 82.2% market share for Sunday’s final game.
The deciding match, which saw France beat Croatia by 4-2 and take home the champion’s trophy for the first time since 1998, drew 19.3 million viewers, according to Mediametrie. That figure rose to 22.3 million people by the end of the game. It marks the seventh-most-watched TV program ever in France and the most-watched soccer match since 2002.
TF1 had exclusive free-to-air rights to 28 games, which it acquired from FIFA for about $82 million, while beIN Sports has all World Cup rights for France for 2018 and 2022, according to Jean-Baptiste Sergeant, an analyst at MainFirst. It’s unknown whether TF1 will be able to recoup its investment or if it will lose millions as it did during previous tournaments. Soccer is known for being a brand booster but a loss leader.
The channel’s website, MYTF1, which live-streamed the games, also lured in many users, with 1.2 million visits during the final.
Not counting the final, the six previous games played by the French team drew an average of 12.8 million viewers, a 70% market share. It’s a strong score considering that only one of these games was played in primetime.
The ratings figure for the final game does not include the crowds who watched it in jam-packed bars and at other venues, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Stade du France arena, where the final aired ahead of Beyonce and Jay Z’s concert.
Hundreds of thousands of French people thronged the streets Sunday to celebrate the victory, flooding iconic sites of Paris, waving flags and singing “La Marseillaise.”