England’s World Cup opening match – a narrow 2-1 victory over Tunisia secured with a last-minute winning goal – proved to be a hit among TV viewers in the U.K. on Monday, with the game topping the recent royal wedding to become the most watched program of the year so far.
According to the BBC, the match attracted a peak of 18.3 million viewers to BBC One, giving the channel a 69.2 percent share in the U.K. Included in the figure were three million requests to stream the match online via BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport, making it the highest-ever live viewing for any BBC program online.
Last month’s royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle hit a peak of 18 million across various U.K. channels.
Monday’s figures easily beat the 15.6 million Brits that tuned in four years ago to watch England’s opening match in the 2014 World Cup, which saw the Three Lions go down 1-2 to Italy. England’s opener in the 2010 World Cup, which, like Monday’s match kicked off in the early evening U.K. time, drew 20.1 million viewers on the BBC.
England is set to play Panama on Sunday, followed by its final game in the World Cup’s group stages against Belgium on June 28. Tuesday’s ratings are likely to be dominated by host nation Russia’s match against Egypt, with the Middle East nation’s star player, Mohamed Salah, expected to return from injury.