England’s 1-1 draw with Russia was watched by a peak of 14.1 million viewers on ITV last night – the biggest television audience for any programme this year across all channels.
An average of 12.9m saw England’s opening game of Euro 2016 while the overall coverage, beginning at 7pm and finishing at 10.25pm, attracted an average of 9.2m, 43 per cent of all available viewing.
Before last night’s match, the highest rating programme so far in 2016 was the April 16 episode of Britain’s Got Talent, which drew a peak of 11.6m viewers.
The figures are good news for ITV which was criticised in some quarters for failing to immediately report on the violence at the end of the game.
Instead of reporting on scenes of England fans apparently being attacked by hordes of Russia supporters, the channel continued with its punditry and interviews.
The match also provided mixed emotions for England fans. Despite dominating for large parts of the game – and holding a 1-0 lead thanks to an Eric Dier strike – Russia poached a point with an injury time equaliser from Vasili Berezutski.