As an American, I do not totally get the love the rest of the world has for soccer, in the same way that they probably look at American football and shrug.
While the love of the game escapes me (I have been to some MLS games and watch the Premier League on ESPN when I can), I do understand ratings. And holy crap, does Europe love soccer.
In the two semifinal matches of the Champions League, the top soccer tournament in Europe every year, two German teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, went up against two of the top Spanish squads FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The two games drew ridiculous ratings, matching what is seen usually for World Cup or European Championship contests.
On ZDF, a German public broadcaster, 15.9 million viewers watched Bayern take Barcelona out to the wood shed and destroy them Wednesday, 3-nil. That was a 46.2 percent share of the ratings, as well as the top rating ever for a contest not involving the national side. Almost another million watched the game on a simulcast on Sky Deutschland.
9.5 million viewers watched Madrid top Dortmund 2-0 the day before. The contest aired on Television Espanola, and drew a 49.9 percent share.
Bayern and Dortmund meet on May 25 and should break German records. That contest will be held in London's Wembley Stadium and is expected to draw a great number in Britain as well.