It was a big evening for ITV on Thursday. A staggering peak audience of 18.5 million tuned in for England’s final World Cup group game against Belgium, while a total of 6 million watched across Love Island and the inaugural episode of Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid’s current affairs magazine show Good Evening Britain in the 9:15pm slot that followed.
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Already through to the last 16, Gareth Southgate’s significantly weakened side were playing for a top spot in the group that neither team seemed to want, but this didn’t deter fans – the match logged a greater peak viewership than both of the previous games, against Tunisia (18m) and Panama (14.1m), while an average of 13m tuned in for the duration of the broadcast.
Elsewhere, an amicable ratings rivalry between ITV and its sister channel ITV2 –and Danny Dyer and his daughter Dani – saw Good Evening Britain neck and neck with Love Island.
Danny Dyer’s instantly classic Brexit tirade helped GEB to an average of 3.1 million viewers while Love Island was watched by 2.9 million before the addition of +1 viewers scored a narrow victory for the ITV2 show.
It was win-win for broadcaster ITV during a summer in which ITV2 has been regularly dominating the headlines with its water-cooler reality hit. It also bodes well for the channel as it prepares to broadcast England’s round of 16 tie against Colombia on Tuesday – which will be expected to draw an even bigger crowd.