COLOGNE, Germany - Just as Spain dominated the final of the Euro 2012, so the soccer championships continued its stranglehold on European TV ratings.
An astounding 90 percent of Spanish viewers watched their team defeat Italy 4-0 Sunday night to take an unprecedented back-to-back European Championship title - and the third major tournament title when including the 2010 World Cup - while the match scored a near 50 percent ratings share across the continent.
There is no pan-European ratings data that would allow a continent-wide comparisons with the 2008 edition of the championships.
A peak of 17.9 million viewers tuned into Telecinco to see Spanish striker Fernando Torres score the team's third goal, while an average of 15.5 million, an 83.4 percent share, watched the entire game. That marks a record for a regulation 90 minute match broadcast on Spanish TV but lagged behind the 18.1 million that saw Spain's Euro 2012 semi-final game against Portugal, which went into overtime and ended with a penalty shoot-out. A peak of 19 million Spaniards watched that match, an all-time television audience record for the territory.
In Italy, 22.47 million viewers watched their squad's defeat on free and payTV, an 81.7% share. The Italian's team's unexpected advance to the Euro 2012 finals kept local fans glued to their sets. Over the entire three week competition, an average of 9.1 million viewers, or more than 42 percent of the audience, watched every match, whether or not the home team was playing.
The Euro 2012 final grabbed about half of Europe's total TV audience with only slight regional variations.
In Germany, a peak of 20.3 million, a 56.2 percent share, tuned in on ZDF, a record for a Euro 2012 match not involving Germany. In the U.K., more than 13 million watched the match on BBC and an additional 2.2 million caught the simultaneous broadcast on commercial network ITV1. Together, just under half of the British audience watched the whole game.
In the Netherlands, 5.2 million, or 51.5 percent, watched the final on NOS. In France, nearly 13 million, or 48 percent, caught the final on the TF1 network.
With the end of Euro 2012, European broadcasters bid goodbye to those dream ratings. But the film industry has a reason to cheer: after nearly a month of soccer drawing audiences out of cinemas across Europe, distributors are hoping for a box office boost in the coming weeks - t least until the London Olympics kick off on July 27.
Pamela Rolfe in Madrid, Stuart Kemp and Georg Szalai in London, Eric J. Lymen in Rome and Rebecca Leffler in Paris contributed to this report.
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