British Soccer Ratings Beat Queen’s Jubilee

Wayne Rooney - H 2012
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ITV scores a peak audience of 18.6 million, the biggest British TV audience of the year, with coverage of the Euro 2012 match between England and Ukraine.

English soccer star Wayne Rooney blew past Her Majesty in the U.K. ratings as ITV drew the biggest British TV audience of the year Tuesday night with its coverage of England soccer team’s 1-0 win over Ukraine Tuesday night in the Euro 2012 Championships.

A peak audience of 18.6 million watched the match, representing a 64 percent share for ITV. This was  "the highest peak television audience on any (U.K.) channel so far this year," ITV said. 

An average of 16.1 million viewers – or 57 percent of the U.K. audience, watched the match from start to finish. An average of 12.7 million tuned in for ITV’s full 3-hour coverage, including pre- and post-match analysis. 

The game, which saw England advance to the quarterfinals of the European soccer championships thanks to a goal by English star Rooney, drew a bigger crowd than the recent BBC concert for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.

GALLERY: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Concert

The jubilee concert celebration, which featured the likes of Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and Elton John, drew an average of 14.7 million viewers, or a share of 57.4 percent. At its peak, the BBC brought in 17 million viewers, or a share of 65.4 percent.

Across the Channel, France’s M6 recorded its second-best ever rating for the parallel Euro 2012 match between France and Sweden. 12.2 million French viewers, a 44.5 percent share, watched their home team lose 2-0 to Sweden. France, however, will still advance to the quarterfinals, thanks to a stronger performance in its first two Euro 2012 matches.

The rating the best for the year for M6 and second only to the 13.2 million viewers that tuned in 2008 to watch the France vs. Italy match in the first round of the Euro Championship in 2008.

The results – both on the field and in the ratings – bode well for the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, which kick off Thursday. In addition to England and France, teams from Western Europe’s other big territories - Germany, Italy and Spain - all qualified for the Euros knockout round. This is good news for Euro 2012 organizer UEFA and its sponsors, which are likely to see even larger TV audiences as the tournament continues.

Rebecca Leffler in Paris contributed to this report.