The UEFA 2012 European Championships are off to exceptional ratings on ESPN. The first three days of matches, six contests in total, ESPN averaged about 1.33 million viewers per game. That's a boost of 214% from the last European Championship in 2008.
The most watched match thus far in the first three days of competition was the Italy-Spain contest which registered over 2.1 million viewers on Sunday, June 10; the most for any Euros game on the ESPN Family of Networks with the exception of the EURO 2008 Final between Spain and Germany on ABC which received an average of 3.76 million people. Executives at ESPN have to be euphoric by the numbers. And I'm always hearing that European football gets poor ratings. The same games are averaging 3.2 million in Hispanic households on ESPN Deportes.
The news of the exceptional ratings has to be music to the ears of the ESPN Family of Networks' advertising department. Unless the advertising rates were set before the airing of the Euros, ESPN could ask for appalling prices for commercials during the semi-final matches and the final. I'm sure a few ESPN ad salesmen starting doing calculations when they saw the numbers of the opening matches.
The European stars have come out to play in this championship as well. Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie, Mario Gomez and Ronaldo are players who are recognized internationally. The love of country is always the major reason for big ratings for the Euro worldwide, however when you have huge football stars contributing to some of the greatest highlights of Euro 2012, it's easy for even the most fickle of football fans to take notice and tune in for a few hours.
ESPN's coverage of Euro 2012 has been fantastic, and that's coming from someone who hasn't always been the biggest fan of The Worldwide Leader in Sports. There pre and post-match coverage is always good and there commentary is usually fair. The only thing I would change is Michael Ballack. He seems like a nice enough gentlemen, but there are times when he looks really uncomfortable. I know there's a language barrier there, and it's noticeable, but he doesn't really add anything to the broadcast. It seems like Ballack's just trying to make it through the short segments.
The pairing of announcing team Ian Darke and Steve McManaman for most of the major match's is awesome-it makes me long for the Premier League season to start.
Note: I've been an Arsenal fan for nearly a decade. My cousin got me interested in the club at a young age.