Semifinals Draw Record Ratings Across Europe
The World Cup semifinals "ended with England and Belgium in tears, France and Croatia in ecstasy" and broadcasters across Europe "enjoying record ratings," according to Scott Roxborough of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. France's 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday night drew a peak of 22.3 million viewers on TF1, making the match "not only the most-watched event of the year in France but the eighth most-watched of all time in the territory." Sunday's final "will look to take on the all-time ratings champ," the 2006 World Cup semifinal between France and Portugal, which drew 22.6 million viewers in La Republique. A "similarly massive audience of British fans watched on Wednesday" as the Three Lions lost to Croatia 2-1. An average of 24.3 million British viewers, an 81% share, caught the match on commercial network ITV, with a peak viewership of 26.6 million, or an 84% audience share. Britain's football obsession "meant that the audience share for public broadcaster BBC 1 shrunk" to just 6.2% during the match, its lowest level since '10. ITV said that it "also scored a new record for online viewership," with 4.3 million simulcast requests for the match on the company's ITV Hub streaming service. ITV noted that the 24.3 million average audience "is an all-time high" for a football match on a single channel in the U.K. Belgium TV "also set new ratings records," with nearly 2.5 million watching the Red Devils' loss on Flemish network VRT and a further 1.65 million catching the match on French-language network La Une. Both "were all-time highs for the territory." The semifinal drama "also drew in the neutrals:" 19.23 million German fans watched the England-Croatia match on public broadcaster ZDF, a 58.5% share. Well over 18 million caught the France-Belgium match. In Spain, Telecinco's broadcast of the England-Spain semifinal drew a "formidable" 53% share (THR, 7/12).