DFB national coach Hansi Flick and ARD expert Bastian Schweinsteiger at the World Cup match between Germany and Costa Rica
Federico Gambarini / dpa
The data is sobering for ARD and ZDF: The number of viewers at the World Cup in Qatar is lower than ever before for comparable events.
The interim balance after the first knockout round is clear: In the round of 16, the minus compared to the 2018 World Cup in Russia is more than 50 percent.
Even in the preliminary round, the figures from AGF Videoforschung showed the disinterest and boycott mood of many football fans.
Only 4.802 million watched the live broadcasts of the group games on ARD and ZDF on average, compared to 9.254 million four years ago.
After the end of the German team, the minus in the first phase of the knockout phase is even clearer: 4.775 million instead of 9.997.
"Many people have remained consistent," commented ARD sports coordinator Axel Balkausky on the numbers.
"A World Cup in the run-up to Christmas doesn't create a football atmosphere"
"Nevertheless, over a period of several weeks, the numbers are extraordinary, and that also applies to young viewers," said Balkausky.
After all, Portugal's 6-1 win over Switzerland was the day's most-watched show with 5.82 million viewers on Tuesday evening.
So millions continue to watch – only there are significantly fewer than before.
Live broadcasts of major soccer tournaments have so far reached a level that no other format can even begin to deliver.
In 2018, the German team's World Cup games had an average of more than 25 million TV viewers.
In the three games of this World Cup, however, the value was not even 15 million.
The media scientist Jana Wiske said of the reasons for the drop in ratings: "A World Cup in the hectic pre-Christmas period does not create a great football atmosphere, which develops in the summer, for example, through many public viewing offers outdoors." Professor at the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, many people “more and more dislike this extreme form of football commercialization: the sum of the grievances surrounding the World Cup in Qatar and the dubious role of Fifa was too much for a large proportion of football fans, and there was a boycott attitude really established itself.«
Although the number of viewers of the digital offers from ARD/ZDF is increasing, it cannot compensate for the decline in traditional television.
The data from the public broadcasters for the Internet and media libraries cannot be compared directly with the TV figures, but ARD sports coordinator Balkausky calculates that there will be an average of around 2.5 million additional viewers online for German games.
On the other hand, the countless millions who celebrate at public viewings and follow the games at summer tournaments are missing this year.
These World Cup viewers also do not appear in the TV figures from AGF Videoforschung.