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Opening World Cup Match Nabs 50% Share in U.K.

Bandwidth issues cause outage on ITV website for viewers streaming match

LONDON — The opening game of the soccer World Cup, in which host nation Brazil beat Croatia, attracted an average audience in the U.K. of 11.2 million viewers on ITV1, the flagship channel of the U.K.’s top commercial network. This equated to a 50% share.

The full coverage, which included the opening ceremony headlined by a performance from Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Brazilian star Claudia Leitte, ran from 7 p.m. to 11.15 p.m. U.K. time, and took 12.6 million viewers and an average of 8.2 million, delivering a 40.3% share, according to the Guardian.

By way of comparison, the final of “Britain’s Got Talent” on Saturday drew a peak audience of 12.7 million viewers and an average 10.7 million on the same channel, which was a 50.8% share.

Viewers watching the match on the ITV website suffered an outage caused by bandwidth issues.

An ITV spokeswoman responded during the match: “Due to unprecedented numbers of users during this game we are currently experiencing some technical problems with our live coverage via ITV Player on PC/Mac.

“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

Some viewers also complained about the sound quality of the coverage, especially during J-Lo’s performance.

During the match, the ITV studio on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro came under attack from anti-World Cup protesters, who pelting it with rocks, causing impact marks in the studios’ large glass panels.

Adrian Chiles, ITV’s World Cup presenter, was in the studio with pundits Lee Dixon, Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira during the attack, according to the Guardian.

“This demonstration materialized about 10 minutes before the end of the game,” Chiles said. “We were all sitting up here and then suddenly sharp clattering sounds started greeting our ears. That was them pelting the glass of our studio and other studios around here. We did try to explain to them that none of this is our fault at ITV Sport.”

For U.K. TV audiences, the next peak in viewing is expected on Saturday when England play Italy, although the match will kick off at 11 p.m. U.K. time, which will limit its effect on other entertainment options. The match airs on BBC1.

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