Vue chain shows all England's first round matches free

With sweltering weather and soccer World Cup fever keeping auds away from the theaters, U.K. cinema operators are taking the line: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

The Vue chain is showing all England’s first round matches free in 13 locations just to showcase plexes and entice occasional cinemagoers back to see a movie, while the Clapham Picturehouse in southwest London aired England vs. Paraguay on June 10.

There is a dearth of quality product in cinemas and June 9-11 weekend biz was the third lowest (excluding two weekends that included Christmas Day) since EDI begun to keep comprehensive box office records five years ago.

Meanwhile, ITV1′s live coverage of England vs. Trinidad and Tobago scored an astonishing 73% audience share as an average of 14.1 million Brits tuned in, according to overnight ratings. It’s the biggest TV audience of the tournament so far in the U.K, where live coverage is shared between leading terrestrials ITV1 and BBC1, who forked out $296 million for the privilege.

BBC1 aired England’s mid-week encounter with Paraguay, seen by 11.9 million viewers, an 84% share.

As a team England’s form is listless, but having won two of its first three games, the squad will qualify for the next round, a knockout contest, guaranteeing a ratings bonanza for the two terrestrials.

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