Germany's national team received notable ratings for their first two Women's World Cup games, continuing a worldwide trend of decent viewer numbers. Ticket sales have reportedly been less encouraging.
Ahead of the tournament, FIFA said it expected the 2019 Women's World Cup to reach more than a billion viewers. A record 62 broadcasters are said to be present in France. "You will see an explosion of women's football," promised FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
If the ratings of the World Cup's first two matchdays are anything to go by, Infantino knew what he was talking about.
Popular news broadcast overtaken
Over six million people watched Germany's 1-0 win over Spain, which was more than Germany's most popular news broadcast, Tagesschau. Germany's opening win over China, too, scored an impressive 4.38 million viewers.
Germany is not the only country where there has been a boom in TV viewer numbers. In England, 6.1 million people watched the 2-1 win over Scotland. It was the most watched women's game of all time in the UK. That was five times higher than the number of people who watched the men's team's third place playoff in the Nations League against Switzerland.
In France, almost 10 million people watched the tournament's opening game between the host country and South Korea, which accounted for a 44% market share. It was the biggest television audience for a France women's game ever.
US outlet Fox Sports said it had recorded a 79% rise in viewers compared to the first two matchdays of the 2011 World Cup and an 11% rise compared to the 2015 tournament.
The increase hasn't been limited to television. According to Fox Sports, views of online Women's World Cup content has seen a spike of 310% compared to 2015.
Ticket sales still a challenge
Despite the encouraging viewer numbers, things look less optimistic in the ticket offices. Fourteen out of 52 World Cup games were sold out before the tournament, with a mere third of the tickets on offer being sold.
According to FIFA, ten group stage games involving top teams such as France and the US are among those that have no more tickets on sale. The semifinals and the final in Lyon are also sold out.
FIFA initially said more than a million tickets had been sold before it retracted the figure, telling AP that the number also included tickets that were given away for free. By comparison, the 2015 Women's World Cup set the competition's all-time record attendance, with 1,353,506 fans attending games across Canada.
ft/amp (AP, dpa, Reuters)