Euro 2020 final attracts estimated 31 million TV audience in UK

Coverage of England v Italy match watched by more viewers than any programme since 1997 Diana funeral

England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy was one of the most-watched moments in British television history, attracting a combined peak audience of 31 million viewers across both BBC and ITV, with many millions more watching on streaming services.

The majority of viewers chose to watch the BBC’s coverage of the match, according to early overnight viewing figures showing that its Gary Lineker-fronted coverage peaked at 25 million viewers when the match went to penalties, although ITV still contributed 6 million viewers to the peak audience.

The figures are estimates produced by the ratings agency Barb and are based on the viewing habits of thousands of households with measuring devices attached to their television set.

They do not include people watching in public spaces such as pubs, or the millions of people who chose to watch the match through an online stream, rather than as a television broadcast. The BBC said there had been 6.9m requests to access its iPlayer stream of the match, while ITV said its Hub service had received 4.2m requests. Although these figures are not independently verified and will include some of the same people refreshing the video livestream, they suggest the real audience was far higher than the headline figures suggest.

Research methodologies have changed substantially over the decades, making it hard to compare modern viewing figures with past audiences. When the viewing figures are finalised next month, the Euro 2020 final could nudge even closer to the highest-ever UK recorded television audience, still held by the 1966 World Cup final, which was watched by an estimated 32.3 million people.

But by any measure, Sunday’s match was the largest recorded television audience in the UK since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. It also attracted more people than Boris Johnson’s March 2020 announcement that the UK was going into lockdown.

Yet while about half the UK’s population watched some of the England match on Sunday night, with many more listening to radio commentary or following online, some Britons did look elsewhere during the football.

Love Island received a lower-than-average but still surprisingly healthy 556,000 viewers on ITV2, while Channel 4 attracted 404,000 viewers who decided they would prefer to avoid the sport and instead settle in for an evening watching something more relaxing – a repeat of an episode of Scotland’s Coastal Railways with Julie Walters.

Contributor

Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
England fan who stormed Euro 2020 final at Wembley defends his actions
‘Pablo’, 24, estimates at least 5,000 ticketless fans got into Wembley on Sunday and explains how they did it

Matthew Weaver

13, Jul, 2021 @5:05 PM

Article image
‘If we win, you’ll be sad’: London’s Little Italy torn over Euro 2020 final
England showdown fuels mixed emotions for Italians who call Clerkenwell neighbourhood home

Matthew Weaver

09, Jul, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
ITV criticised for not banning gambling ads during Euro 2020
Betting industry has restriction for live sports before 9pm, but Care CEO says vulnerable will not be protected

Rob Davies

08, Jun, 2021 @5:48 PM

Article image
1,000 Italy fans to be allowed in to UK for Euro 2020 final at Wembley
Lucky holders of €610 tickets will have to fly in and out on Sunday, remain in a bubble and quarantine on return

Paul MacInnes

08, Jul, 2021 @4:34 PM

Article image
ITV’s England ‘curse’ lifted but BBC will dominate Euro 2020 final
England’s Euro 2020 semi-final victory over Denmark was a big win for ITV but the vast majority of viewers are likely to switch over to BBC for the final, which both broadcasters will screen live

Jim Waterson

09, Jul, 2021 @7:52 PM

Article image
England fans force way into Wembley without tickets for Euro 2020 final
Groups of England fans without tickets forced their way through the Wembley turnstiles before England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy, multiple witnesses have told the Guardian

Nick Ames

11, Jul, 2021 @6:17 PM

Article image
Livestream of England match will have 20-second delay, says BBC
Millions are expected to watch quarter-final game against Sweden on mobile or big screen

Jim Waterson

06, Jul, 2018 @3:05 PM

Article image
Italy scouting report: Azzurri insight before Euro 2020 final with England
Roberto Mancini’s team are on a 33-game unbeaten streak with a super-solid defence and Federico Chiesa a huge threat

Marcus Christenson

08, Jul, 2021 @9:38 AM

Article image
Two nations, two cultures, one Euro 2020 final – and my divided family
Nationalism is more nuanced when you’re from an Anglo-Italian family. And this tournament has been about more than football: it’s a celebration of diversity

Tobias Jones

11, Jul, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Tyrone Mings opens up about mental health struggles at Euro 2020
England and Aston Villa defender reveals he had crisis of self-confidence before opening game

Damien Gayle and agency

02, Aug, 2021 @7:49 AM