LONDON — England’s 2-1 quarter final defeat against Brazil on Friday drew almost 17 million viewers, the biggest morning audience on any U.K. channel for 10 years and beating Blighty’s most popular primetime soap “EastEnders.”
The overall U.K. audience peaked at 16.9 million, with 76% tuning into pubcaster BBC1 rather than commercial rival ITV, which also had rights to air the match. By comparison, nearly 12 million regularly tune into “EastEnders.”
But the match figures don’t take into account the millions who saw England’s exit from the World Cup in pubs, offices and schools. It’s estimated that 25 million watched the match in the U.K., and 800 million saw the game worldwide.
The peak audience was the highest of the World Cup so far despite its 7:30 a.m. kick-off, passing the 16.8 million for the Denmark-England match which aired at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday (June 15).
BBC1 has always been the channel of choice when international football is shown on both the BBC and ITV, but the viewing ratio of nearly 4:1 shows increasing support for the BBC since Euro 2000 and the last World Cup in France in 1998.