It's not surprising that the recently concluded Euro 2012 soccer tournament (technically, the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship) attracted plenty of attention on television; after all, the European Championships only come around every four years and tend to provide some of the best soccer outside of the World Cup, and there's a strong global audience for soccer. It is notable that the 2012 tournament drew much better ratings than its 2008 predecessor, though, and it did so not just in heavily-involved countries, such as finalists Spain and Italy, but also in European countries with teams that didn't make it that far and in North American countries. That suggests a growing market for world soccer, and not just from the ranks of those who support a country in contention.
Country-by-country breakdowns of those ratings, such as the one Bobby McMahon provided over at Forbes Tuesday, reinforce how Euro 2012's success was beyond previous tournaments and distributed through a wide range of countries. Yes, the Spanish and Italians tuned in in unbelievable numbers; The Hollywood Reporter indicates that 90 percent of Spaniards tuned in at some point with a strong peak of 17.9 million for the third goal in Spain's 4-0 final win (although, oddly enough, that was slightly below the 18.1 million peak that tuned in for the penalty shootout in the semifinal with Portugal). 22.4 million Italians tuned in for the final, an 81.7 percent share.
Ratings for the final were dominant even in countries that weren't involved: 20.3 million (a 56.2 percent share) watched in Germany, whose team lost to Italy in the semifinals. 15.2 million (just below 50 percent of the TV audience) tuned in in Britain, which saw England lose in the quarterfinals and Scotland and Northern Ireland fail to qualify for the tournament entirely. It wasn't a good tournament for the Dutch, who saw their highly-regarded side crash out in the group stage without a point, but they kept watching: 5.2 million viewers tuned in to the final in the Netherlands, 51.5 percent of the TV audience. Losing quarterfinalist France also saw 13 million viewers (a 48 percent share) for the final. On the whole, THR estimated that about 50 percent of the pan-European television audience tuned in for the final. European ratings for the whole tournament weren't easy to find, but the ones that were available were strong as well; for example, THR added that an average of 9.1 million Italians watched any particular tournament game. Those massive ratings across Europe may not actually do a ton for broadcasters' bottom lines in and of themselves, but they do illustrate that this tournament (and the final in particular) is about much more than just the teams specifically involved.