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Bundesliga broadcasts draw record viewership as live sports return

Dortmund and Thorgan Hazard beat Schalke inside a stadium without fans Saturday in Dortmund, Germany, but viewership for the game broke a ratings record for FS1. Photo by Martin Meisnner/EPA-EFE
Dortmund and Thorgan Hazard beat Schalke inside a stadium without fans Saturday in Dortmund, Germany, but viewership for the game broke a ratings record for FS1. Photo by Martin Meisnner/EPA-EFE

May 18 (UPI) -- Fox had a big weekend for TV viewership with a German Bundesliga soccer game drawing a record audience prior to Sunday's The Real Heroes 400 NASCAR event in Darlington, S.C.

No fans were allowed at either event, due to coronavirus pandemic safety measures.

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Bundesliga stars took the field Saturday and Sunday for the first time since the league was suspended March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 9:15 a.m. EDT telecast on Saturday between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 drew a .33 overnight rating, the best metered market rating for a German first division telecast on FS1.

Fox said Cincinnati, Ohio, was the top market in the United States for the Dortmund and Schalke affair, which was played inside an empty Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany. Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Kansas City; and Tampa, Fla., were also in the top five available markets for viewership.

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Fox Sports executive vice president Michael Mulvihill said the Dortmund and Schalke broadcast drew a gained audience of 725 percent more than FS1's last Bundesliga broadcast, prior to the league's suspension.

The Eintracht and Borussia Moenchengladbach match at 12:15 p.m. EDT Saturday drew the second-best metered market rating for a Bundesliga game on FS1. BT Sport -- a sports TV network in the United Kingdom -- said the Schalke and Dortmund match drew 1.4 million viewers across its TV and digital coverage.

A peak audience of 652,000 viewers watched the Dortmund victory on normal TV, an audience five times larger than a Saturday Bundesliga broadcast before the season suspension.

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"It's great to see strong viewing numbers across both digital and linear channels this weekend on BT Sport with the return of Bundesliga," a BT Sport spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

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

A Fox Sports spokesperson said the network did not have the viewership numbers yet for Sunday's NASCAR race. The hashtag #NASCARIsBack was the top trend on Twitter in the United States -- and No. 3 trend in Canada -- on Sunday afternoon.

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The Bundesliga continues with a clash between Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen at 2:30 p.m. EDT Monday on FS2. NASCAR will hold another Cup Series race with the Toyota 500 Wednesday in Darlington.

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