England's First Match of Euro 2012 Soccer Cup Draws Majority of British TV Audience

Mesut Ozil German Soccer - H 2012
Getty Images

Mesut Ozil German Soccer - H 2012

UPDATED: The country's opening match of the European soccer championships averaged 12.3 million viewers on ITV1, or a 56 percent share, while France's TF1 also drew a big audience.

England's and France's first match of the Euro 2012 European soccer championships on Monday drew strong ratings for the broadcasters in the respective countries, with Britain's ITV and France's TF1 both reporting a majority share of the national TV audience at the time.

The late Monday afternoon/early evening soccer match between the two big European countries drew an average of 12.3 million viewers, or a 56 percent share, for British broadcaster ITV, the company said Tuesday. The ratings for ITV1 outperformed the company's audience reach for the 2008 tournament in a couple of key metrics.

TF1 said that 10.2 million people watched with a peak of 14 million towards the end of the game, more than a 50 percent share for the time slot. The network said that this was the best performance for TF1 for a game broadcast at the end of the afternoon since 2006.

Over the weekend, big European soccer nations saw TV audiences of 60-80 percent for their home team's opening games.

Including pre-game and post-game coverage, an average of 9 million viewers, or a 47 percent share of the total TV audience at the time, watched the game on ITV1, according to the company.

In comparison, the BBC earlier this month drew an average of 14.7 million viewers, for a 57.4 percent share, with its broadcast of the star-studded concert to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee. That was the biggest British TV audience of the year so far.

At its peak, Monday's soccer game reached an audience of 15.3 million, or a share of 60 percent, marking ITV1's highest peak audience of the year to date.

Both the peak audience and the average audience across the game coverage came in above the performance of any Euro 2008 match broadcast on ITV1, the broadcaster also said.

The ITV coverage of England's Monday match also boosted traffic to the broadcaster's web site. Its itv.com/sport site attracted 428,740 unique visitors on Monday and at its peak served 240,000 simultaneous live streams of the game to computers and mobile devices, ITV said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai