Soccer Aid kicks the Bafta TV Awards into touch

The 90-minutes of ITV's all-star football match attracted almost twice Bafta's audience - and raised £4m for charity in the process...

Proving the point that Edward Norton and Paddy McGuinness exchanging slide tackles makes for a more exciting TV spectacle than the sight of luvvies vying for gongs, last night’s Soccer Aid 2012 match attracted almost double the number of viewers as the Bafta TV Awards. It pulled in an audience of 6m between 8-10pm on Sunday evening, versus 3.5m for the Baftas.

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Owing to to two hours of pre-emptive and little-watched punditry before its eight o’clock kick-off, ITV’s all-star charity football match scored an average of 4.3m viewers and a 23% share of the total TV viewership between 6-10pm, while the BBC broadcast of Bafta’s ceremony still lagged some way behind with 3.5m viewers and a 16% share between 8-10pm (at last it seems the Beeb have found something less popular than The Voice to put on at weekends!). 

And, ladling the gravy onto ITV’s half-time meat pie, an additional 200,000 people tuned in to Soccer Aid on ITV1+1, taking the broadcast’s total audience up to an average of 4.5m.

Even more galling for Bafta is the fact that last year’s broadcast of their TV Awards attracted one of its biggest ever audiences, with 5.3m viewers, representing a year-on-year a decline of almost 40%. Doubtless some blame for the shortfall will be levelled at yesterday’s fantastic weather, but sunshine doesn’t discriminate against any one particular broadcaster…

And perhaps the BBC can take some comfort in the fact that Bafta proved a more appetising dish than Channel 4’s Come Dine with Me Jubilee Special, which only managed 1.4m viewers and a 6% audience share between 8-9pm. 

Mind you, seeing as most of the British showbiz world spent last night either sweltering in finery or charging around Old Trafford, poor old Channel 4 had to make what they could from the leftovers at the back of the celebrity larder, serving up a concoction of Keith Harris, Kerry Katona, Cheryl Fergison and Lionel Blair. While stodgy, it didn’t boast much flavour.

In any case, it would be churlish of anyone to resent Soccer Aid’s success as the event wasn’t just entertaining but did some genuine good too, raising £4m for Unicef, an amount which prompted the charity’s stunned executive director David Bull to thank those viewers who tuned in and pledged their support.

“The generosity of the British public has been amazing and we are so grateful for everyone who picked up their phone to give as much as they could to help us provide food, vaccines and other life saving supplies to children who desperately need it. Thank you,” he said. 

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So judging by this year’s ratings clobbering, it might make more sense for stars seeking maximum exposure to worry less about composing acceptance speeches and more about learning the offside rule come next May…