BBC beats ITV in World Cup viewers clash

More than 20 million British viewers tuned in to the World Cup final last night - with the BBC scoring a victory against ITV.

On BBC1, Spain's 1-0 win against Holland drew a match peak of 17.9 million viewers and a 60% share of the audience between 9.55pm and 10pm.

On rival broadcaster ITV, which was also showing the final, figures peaked at 3.8 million between 10pm and 10.05pm - a 13% share of the audience.

The BBC said its match audience average was 4.5 times higher than ITV's viewing figures.

The game averaged 15.1 million (a 54% share of viewers) on BBC1 and 3.3 million (a 12% share) on ITV1.

Spain scored four minutes before the end to win 1-0, sparking wild scenes of celebration in Johannesburg, South Africa, and across Spain.

ITV director of television Peter Fincham said: "I'm proud of what ITV Sport has achieved in South Africa, with Adrian Chiles and the entire team bringing our viewers coverage of the highest quality and offering a fresh perspective on the competition."

Mr Fincham said: "In the age of multichannel television, the television audiences achieved by both channels throughout the tournament are impressive, and I'm particularly pleased that ITV1 broadcast the two most watched moments of the tournament with over 20 million watching each of England's opening games."

The BBC said it had notched up the highest audience for a World Cup final on the BBC since France won the tournament in 1998 and that its figures were up 1.2 million on 2006.

In a sport-heavy weekend, the BBC's coverage of the British Grand Prix drew a peak audience of 6.8 million, up one million on last year's figure.

In the 2006 World Cup final, ITV drew in 3.5 million viewers and the BBC more than 17 million, ITV said.

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