Spain and Italy might have been battling it out in last night’s Euro 2012 final, but it was the BBC and ITV going head-to-head in the ratings between 7-10:15pm – and the Beeb, much like the Spaniards, kicked their opponents well and truly into touch.
An average of 10.2m people (41% share) watched Vincente del Bosque’s boys administering a thrashing on BBC1 and its HD counterpart, compared to the depleted squad of 1.7m (7%) viewers who tuned in to see their 4-0 victory over on ITV1 and ITV1 HD. No doubt the added draw of CBBC commentary, available via the red button, had more than a little to do with swinging things in the Corporation's favour.
In the battle of the pre-match build-up, crisp-shilling Gary Lineker and the BBC's team of pundits came out on top and were watched by an average of 5.5m viewers between 7-7:40pm, while Adrian Chiles's superfan act on ITV only attracted 1.2. people to the channel.
During the game itself (7:45-10:15pm), ITV averaged 1.8m viewers while the Beeb scored almost 10m more with an mean audience of 11.6m. The channels' respective peaks came within five minutes of each other too, with ITV pulling in 2.3m (8%) at 8:55pm, while Auntie's apogee came at 9:00pm when the Beeb entertained a high of 13.4m (49%) people.
But while last night's figures are impressive, they're distinctly first division compared to the premier 23m-strong audience who got behind Roy Hodgson and the England team for their heartbreaking encounter with Italy, which went out on BBC1 on Sunday 24 June and saw our boys crash out of the tournament.
ITV suffered a further defeat last night when the Brighter Side’s coverage was wrong-footed by Secrets of our Living Planet on BBC2, which confided its mysteries in an audience of 2m (9%) soccer-phobes. The channel's bosses can perhaps take comfort in the fact that Channel 5’s International One-Day Cricket highlights package was all but hit for six, with only 0.8m (4%) viewers preferring the thwack of willow on leather to the roars emanating from Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.
So if today’s reports about his leaving are to be believed, judging by last night’s numbers, Lineker might be best off sticking with the Beeb after all…