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Women's World Cup hit with television audiences

During the women's World Cup, 16.39 million Germans tune in to watch triumph over Nigeria.

The women's World Cup is proving popular in football-mad Germany as nearly 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the host team beat Nigeria and set a national television record.

Germany's 1-0 victory in Frankfurt on Thursday was watched by an average TV audience of 16.39 million people, 51.7 per cent of the German market, which rose to 19.13 million, 64 per cent, at its peak.

The average figure is a record for a women's football match here, beating the previous best of 15.37 million viewers who tuned into Sunday's opening game in Berlin when Germany defeated Canada 2-1 in Group A.

The figures compare favourably with the average figure of 21.9 million who tuned in to watch Germany's games at the men's 2006 World Cup, which was held here.

"It's unbelievable that the viewing figures have been improved again," Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German Football Federation, said.

"The numbers show how much interest there is in women's football."

Steffi Jones, a former player and the head of the organising committee, was also delighted.

"This is the kind of platform we want women's football to have," she said.

"This is an opportunity to promote the sport and the media is making it possible."

While Germans tuned in by the millions as a second-half strike by the midfielder Simone Laudehr put the hosts in the quarter-finals, the interest was not so strong at the public viewing sites around the country.

A quiet night was reported at fan miles in other host cities, in Berlin, Bochum, Moenchengladbach and Leverkusen.

But at the fan mile in Frankfurt am Main - a huge success during the 2006 men's World Cup - some 10,000 ignored the damp weather to cheer on their team.

However, Uli Hoeness, the president of Bayern Munich, wondered if the women's World Cup will do anything to spur interest in the women's league in Germany.

"The current marketing campaign is good, the women are playing well and the national team is incredibly popular, but in the [women's] Bundesliga, there is still only 2,000 spectators per game," he said.

France and Germany have both already qualified for the last eight after two games and play each other in Moenchengladbach on Tuesday. The winner will capture Group A and face the runners-up of Group B in the quarter-finals.

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