ZDF makes strong ratings start to handball World Championship
Handball's IHF Men's World Championship opener between Germany and South Korea yesterday drew more than 6 million viewers to ZDF, the German public-service broadcaster.
Germany, which is co-hosting the tournament with Denmark, beat the Koreans 30-19 in Berlin, with 6.11 million people tuning in to watch the match, which started at 6.15pm (CET).
ZDF said the audience figure corresponded to a market share of 23.6 per cent.
Thomas Fuhrmann, ZDF sports director, said: "It was a great start for the national handball team - and a great start to the ZDF World Cup coverage. More than six million on the screens show the great interest of the audience in the home 2019 World Championship."
ZDF is sharing coverage of the event with rival ARD in a deal agreed last October that runs to 2025.
Also included in the deals with Lagardère Sports, for the World Championships, and Infront, for the European Championships, are the World Championships of 2021, 2023 and 2025 and the European Championships of 2020, 2022 and 2024, the last of which will be played in Germany.
The International Handball Federation had come under pressure from the DHB, the German handball federation, to take action in order to enable a domestic broadcast rights deal to be agreed for the 2019 World Championship.
The move followed headlines in Germany about the threat of another free-to-air TV 'blackout’ of the Championship after German coverage of the last two editions of the tournament (in 2015 and 2017) was affected by a row over the international availability of the satellite signal of ZDF.
The opposition of BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster and rights-holder, to the ZDF signal proved to be an insurmountable obstacle in free-to-air rights negotiations in Germany.
This resulted in coverage of the 2015 and 2017 Championships appearing on pay TV's Sky Deutschland and via a stream funded by DHB sponsor DKB, the German financial services firm, respectively.