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Date: 7/20/2018

The recently-completed 2018 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship in Debrecen was not only memorable for Hungarians because of their impressive national team winning the title by overcoming the strong Norwegians in the final last Saturday (14 July), but because it has revealed a massive appetite for watching younger-age handball across the country, via the TV set.

With Hungarian games throwing off in the preliminary round at 18:00 hrs on a weekday and 13:30 at the weekend, the crowds inside the Fonix Hall were near to capacity, before being complete sell-outs of 5,500+ in the semi-finals and final, resulting in around 25,000 people attending the competition.

However, these times, combined with an “excellent” partnership with host broadcaster M4 TV, a brand of MTVA, the Hungarian national TV company, resulted in “amazing” viewing numbers according to Deputy Secretary General – International Affairs of the Hungarian Handball Federation (HHF), Gabriella Horváth.

She revealed to IHF.info that the TV audience kept on growing throughout the tournament: Hungary’s eighth-final against Slovenia saw 138,000 permanent viewers with a reach of 316,000. Their quarter-final victory over neighbours Romania saw 163,000/412,000 and then their superb semi-final defeat of Asian champions Korea saw 253,000/552,000.

But the final, on Saturday night against Norway saw 405,000 permanent viewers with a reach of 842,000 – a domestic share of 12%, meaning that for every 100 people watching television in Hungary at the time, 12 were watching the final live from Debrecen.

The final topped all handball matches at all levels in men’s and women’s handball in Hungary in recent years including, for example the 311,000 who watched the Hungary vs Slovenia 2019 IHF Men’s World Championship – Qualification Phase 2 Play-Off last month, the 208,000 who watched the Hungarian Women’s Cup Final and the second match of the Veszprem vs Szeged Men’s League Final (187,000) or the Women’s Champions League FINAL4 in 2018, won by Győri Audi ETO, with 349,000 TV viewers.

This was all the more impressive given that it is holiday season with many Hungarians out of the country and for Horváth it was beyond their wildest dreams.

“The amount of TV viewers went far beyond anyone’s expectations,” said Horvath to IHF.info this week. “The TV numbers topped all our hopes and in addition to this, on M4 Sport TV’s Facebook page they registered 1.2 million hits at the end of the final and the celebrations.

“The Hungarian Handball Federation’s experience from other events such as the Women’s EHF FINAL4 came in handy to quickly solve the growing demands caused by the increased interest,” continued Horváth. “Our junior women’s team quickly grew into their roles as protagonists – they were very mature and professional, serving the event on and off the court.”