According to ZDF, 29.54 million viewers tuned in on Wednesday night to watch Germany defeat Turkey 3-2 in the semi-final match of Euro 2008, giving the broadcaster a massive 81.8 percent market share.
According to estimates, at least 40 million people followed the match, since the ZDF numbers did not include people who watched the action on giant screens in the public viewing areas or in bars. That would mean roughly half of the entire population of Germany saw the match.
In contrast, the second place finisher in the Wednesday evening ratings race was the comedy “Lotti on the Run,” which attracted 2.54 million people, a market share of 7.5 percent.
But ZDF’s TV victory wasn’t without incident, as the broadcast signal of the match was subject to repeated disruptions of service due to bad weather at the tournament’s international broadcast centre in Vienna.
German fans couldn’t see what was happening on the pitch for over six minutes and the match commentator, Béla Réthy, was briefly forced to call into ZDF via telephone to keep viewers updated.
Eventually ZDF was able to get a signal directly from Swiss television, since it was not affected by the power outage in Vienna. The match was held in the Swiss city of Basel, but UEFA required all international broadcasters to use a signal from the broadcast centre in the Austrian capital.
ZDF’s sport director Dieter Gruschwitz called it the “most annoying cock-up imaginable.”