Bundesliga’s strong TV ratings should give Premier League hope

Bundesliga’s strong TV ratings should give Premier League hope
The Bundesliga heralded the first steps of football’s return to normality last weekend after it had been suspended for 66 days due to the coronavirus pandemic. It may not have been the way that fans will have recognised the beautiful game as face masks were worn by the substitutes on the bench, stadiums were eerily quiet and team-mates were strongly discouraged from embracing each other when a goal was scored. Post-match interviews also took on a new form as they were carried out between players and touchline reporters two metres apart from each other in order to maintain social distancing guidelines.

But the biggest impact was felt off the pitch and it was a success story for the broadcasters. Some broadcasters had previously toyed with the idea of generating artificial crowd noises to add to the spectacle.

They didn’t need to though. Sky Deutschland pulled in an audience of six million in Germany alone for the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke and that was more than double the usual viewing figures for a typical Saturday round of fixtures.

All five games in Germany’s top leagues were broadcast at the same time and it certainly whetted the appetite of British fans. BT Sport announced a peak audience of 652,000 tuned in to watch Dortmund take on Schalke.

Indeed, it was five times the usual amount they receive for a Bundesliga game and in November last year, they only attracted a meagre 93,000 for the Der Klassiker showdown between Bayern Munich and Dortmund.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster said: “It’s great to see strong viewing numbers across both digital and linear channels this weekend on BT Sport with the return of Bundesliga. 

“While these are encouraging, there’s still much for us all to work through to ensure a successful return of the Premier League.”

Of course, figures are always open to interpretation, and perhaps it is slightly disconcerting that it wasn’t the top performing non-terrestrial show in the UK last weekend as it trailed behind ITV 3’s Midsomer Murders.

Nevertheless, after being starved of action for over the past couple of months, it was clear that there was a clamouring for some live action on these shores and the Bundesliga duly provided.

Put into a wider context, it is clear that the Bundesliga’s product is far more superior compared to some of its European counterparts and it has mass appeal. The Bundesliga which is shaping up to be one of the most climatic title races, will have been put under the microscope, but on its return, it passed its first major test with flying colours.

The Bundesliga has been like a guinea pig as it is the first top European league to resume and there has been a lot of pressure for them to get it right.

While football is not quite what it once was before Covid-19 pandemic, the Bundesliga has to back itself and it has to believe it is putting its best foot forward. Certainly, from a broadcasting perspective, it can offer a blueprint for how the Premier League can hit the ground running if and when it should return.

Although some fans may have turned off, the Bundesliga has shown that it can work in this brave new age and the Premier League must take heart.


Written by Charles Perrin

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