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More than 8 million viewers "watched Channel 4's first ever Grand National," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The figure was 2 million down from the BBC's final race last year, but "in line with previous years." A peak audience of 8.9 million tuned in five minutes into the race at 4:20pm London time. That represented 61% of the U.K. TV audience at that time, "an almost identical figure to that which watched the BBC's coverage" in '12. The entire 15-minute spectacle attracted an audience of 8.4 million, while Channel 4's four-hour-plus coverage was "watched by an average of 2.9 million," a 28% audience share (TELEGRAPH, 4/7).
CHANNEL 4 PROTESTS: In London, Mark Townsend wrote animal rights campaigners "have staged a protest outside the headquarters of Channel 4, accusing the Grand National broadcaster of cynically exploiting the brutality of the world's most famous horse race." Around 80 campaigners gathered in central London to chant "shame on Channel 4" before reading out a list of the 23 horses that have died during the Grand National since '89. Animal Aid Dir Andrew Tyler accused the broadcaster of deliberately ramping up the danger inherent in the steeplechase, in particular condemning a commercial promoting its first broadcast of the steeplechase as "cynical, callous and pretty disgusting" (GUARDIAN, 4/6).
PLACE YOUR BETS: Also in London, Chris Cook wrote bookmakers estimated that betting on the Grand National could top £150M ($230M) "for the first time in the history of the race." Millions of punters "were expected to wager more cash than usual as Saturday's race at Aintree is the only major sporting event of the weekend." A capacity crowd of more than 70,000 in Liverpool "will be joined in watching the 166th race by an estimated 600 million television viewers worldwide" (GUARDIAN, 4/6).
German public broadcaster ARD "recorded top ratings for its Bundesliga highlight show 'Sportschau' on Saturday evening," according to David Grzeschik of QUOTENMETER. A total of 5.71 million viewers tuned in "to watch the first free-to-air TV footage of the game between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt in which Bayern clinched its 23rd championship." The number equaled a market share of 24.9%, which "was the fourth hightest rating of the season for the show." In the target demographic 14-49, ARD's "Sportschau," which started at 6:30pm German time, obtained a 20.5% market share. In addition, second German public broadcaster ZDF "received high ratings for its sports highlight show 'das aktuelle Sportstudio' on Saturday night." The show, which aired at 11pm German time, was watched by 2.76 million viewers. The number translated into a 15.1% market share. In the target demographic, the ZDF program recorded a 11.8% share (QUOTENMETER, 4/7).
TVA Sports "will partner with CBC/Radio-Canada to televise games from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil." The French-language sports channel "will broadcast 18 matches live and 46 others on tape delay during the month-long tournament next summer." CBC "will air games in English while Radio-Canada will carry games in French" (QMI, 4/4). ... Explicit footage of Australian Football League Adelaide Crows forward Ricky Henderson in the Crows' changing rooms "has raised the ire of both Adelaide and the AFL Players Association." They are incensed that the vision of Henderson "was shown live during Foxtel's telecast of the Adelaide-Brisbane match at the Gabba on Saturday." Henderson "appeared unaware he was being filmed as he pulled his shorts forward for several seconds, exposing his genitals, as the players prepared to return after the half-time break" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/8). ... The upcoming Anzac rugby league test "is the latest major sports event to be in danger of not being broadcast in New Zealand." Fans "face the prospect of a TV blackout with negotiations between pay-TV network Sky and the New Zealand Rugby League dragging." One "well-placed" source suggested that "they had broken down entirely" (FAIRFAX NZ, 4/7).