The Uefa Euro 2012 quarter-final between England and Italy in Ukraine yesterday attracted the largest audience for a sports programme in the UK for eight years.
UK public-service broadcaster the BBC provided live coverage of the game on its BBC One and BBC HD channels, with the combined average of 20.318 million viewers, a 67.8-per-cent audience share for the game, which kicked off at 7.45pm UK time.
The audience for the match, which finished 0-0 after extra time before Italy won on penalties, was just short of the average of 20.66 million generated by the BBC’s live coverage of England v Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 – another game that ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat for England, but after a 2-2 draw.
The five-minute peak for yesterday’s game gave the BBC 23.612 million viewers, a 77.4-per-cent share, from 10.20pm to10.24pm, during the shoot-out.
In Italy, where the game kicked off at 8.45pm, state broadcaster Rai attracted an average of 19.476 million viewers and a 74.6-per-cent share. The peak audience was 21.816 million, an 85.3-per-cent share, during Italy’s victorious shoot-out. Rai’s live coverage spanned three channels – Rai 1, Rai HD and Rai Sport.
In France, there was significant interest in the England v Italy game. Even though France were eliminated from the tournament by losing to Spain the previous day, commercial broadcaster M6 attracted an average of 6.147 million viewers, a 27.5-per-cent share.
For the France v Spain match, which the latter won 2-0 on Saturday, commercial broadcaster TF1 drew an average audience of 11.3 million viewers and a share of 52 per cent. The audience for Saturday’s game was the largest for a sports programme so far this year, according to French newspaper Le Parisien.