Sunday night’s Euro 2020 final, in which Italy beat England on penalties, was the U.K.’s most-watched TV event in over 20 years with a peak viewing audience of 30.95 million viewers and an average audience of 29.85 million. The game was broadcast on both the BBC One and ITV, and the combined numbers are the highest since the broadcast of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, according to the BBC.
Peak viewership came late as the game ended in a tie after extra time, meaning the two teams would decide the outcome with penalties, a source of historical frustration for the English national team which came back to bite them once again. After converting their first two attempts and some impressive work from goalie Jordan Pickford, England failed to score from their final three shots, with Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – eventually named player of the tournament – saving two and another hitting the left post.
As this year’s tournament progressed, viewing numbers of England’s matches grew steadily. On Tuesday of last week, England vs Denmark drew 27.6 million viewers at its peak, making it the most-watched soccer match ever shown on one network in the U.K. It also bucked another England bugaboo of poor results from games broadcast on ITV. Ahead of that match, it was calculated that over the last 23 years England have only won five matches broadcast on ITV as opposed to 15 on the BBC.
Perhaps that’s one reason why the BBC so heavily dominated the audience breakdown, pulling in an astonishing 25 million of those viewers meaning ITV only managed roughly 20% audience share for the split broadcast.
Total U.K. viewership numbers for Sunday’s final are likely to rise as catchup numbers are accounted for. According to “Match of the Day” lead anchor and legendary English striker Gary Lineker, nearly 6 million watched on BBC’s iPlayer alone.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) July 12, 2021