The press might be playing down England’s chances at Euro 2012, but that didn’t stop the punters knocking off work early to tune in to the team’s first game of the tournament.
An average audience of 12.3 million viewers watched 90 minutes of England’s 1-1 draw with France on ITV, with the full broadcast (including extensive punditry before and afterwards) drawing an impressive 8.9 million viewers (47% share) between 4pm and 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITV1 HD.
Viewing peaked in the final five minutes of the game as 15.3 million Englishmen, women and children collectively teetered on the edge of their seats as their team clung on for a point in Donetsk. It was ITV’s highest peak audience of the year so far, with more than three million of that number watching in high definition on ITV1 HD.
Unsurprisingly, both the peak and average audiences for the game were higher than any ITV coverage of Euro 2008 – a tournament that England did not take part in.
And the fans weren’t just watching on television. ITV have reported almost 250,000 simultaneous live streams of the England game via its website, with more than 425,000 unique visitors to its sport website throughout yesterday.
BBC1 also enjoyed good sporting numbers last night: an average audience of 5.3 million (22% share) kept an eye on England’s group D opponents as Ukraine took on Sweden between 7pm and 10pm.
England’s next match is on Friday night against Sweden. The BBC, who only have rights to show one of England’s three group games, will be hoping for even bigger numbers for the 7:45pm kick-off.