England's opening match helps ITV1 to score audience record

Click to follow

Despite being broadcast in the television schedules' traditional graveyard of Sunday morning, England's World Cup match against Sweden has helped ITV1 to three new audience records.

Despite being broadcast in the television schedules' traditional graveyard of Sunday morning, England's World Cup match against Sweden has helped ITV1 to three new audience records.

True, the re-run of the previous night's Parkinson show, which it was up against on BBC1, offered about as much opposition as the Saudi Arabian defence. But the channel was still claiming its highest-ever audience for a Sunday morning show. About 14 million tuned in to watch the 1-1 clash – more than twice the previous highest audience. And that accounted for 84 per cent of all the people watching television at that time – the biggest share of the audience ITV1 has ever seen.

The network also scored with young male viewers, who are crucial to the station in winning advertising. They brought in its highest-ever audience share of male 16 to 34-year-olds, with 90 per cent of all those watching television at that time.

An average of 12.5 million people watched the game, which kicked off at 10.30am. That figure was higher than the number tuning in for England's opening game in the 1998 tournament, when 11.3 million people saw the team defeat Tunisia. The previous best for a Sunday morning was coverage of the 1994 London Marathon, which was watched by 5.6 million.

ITV1's success was at the expense of other channels, with BBC1 particularly badly hit. The repeat of Parkinson drew 300,000 viewers, which ITV claimed was the lowest-ever audience for the channel outside overnight broadcasts. Channel 4's Hollyoaks drew a bigger crowd, with an average of half a million viewers.

Brian Barwick, the controller of sport at ITV, said: "This is a phenomenal audience and proves that despite the time differences, viewers will make a date for the big games.

"It is a spectacular success for ITV1, particularly for a first-round match, and beats England's first game in France '98. It reflects the level of interest that this World Cup is already generating."

The best ever World Cup audience was 1998's England-Argentina game, which drew 24 million. The teams meet again on Friday with live coverage on BBC1 and the game repeated in the evening on ITV1.

Comments