Women's World Cup Semifinal Is U.K.'s Most Watched Program of the Year

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11.7 million watched England's dramatic loss to Team USA, the biggest audience of the year so far for British public broadcaster BBC.

England’s soccer team might be out of the running for the 2019 Women’s World Cup finals, but Tuesday night's dramatic semifinal match loss to the United States was a ratings win for the BBC.

A peak audience of 11.7 million caught the game on the British public broadcaster, making the match the most-watched program of the year to date for the BBC. It is also the biggest-ever audience in the U.K. for a women's soccer match, smashing the previous record of 7.6 million, set by the Lionesses just last week in their quarterfinal win over Norway.

Tuesday night's match was one for the ages, featuring high-tempo play and major drama, including a disallowed goal, a missed penalty and a sending off for England.

Team USA, the defending World Cup champions, were heavily favored going into the match, but it was a nail-biter until the finish, which ended 2-1 for The Stars and Stripes, thanks to headed goals by Christen Press and captain Alex Morgan.

The 2019 Women's World Cup, being held in France, has been smashing TV ratings records worldwide and is being seen as the moment when the women's game is finally emerging from the shadow of the men's tournament. World Cup organizer FIFA has forecast a total, cumulative global audience of 1 billion viewers across all platforms by the time the final whistle blows after the final in Paris on Sunday.

The BBC's record audience on Tuesday was still less than half the 26.5 million viewers who tuned in to commercial channel ITV to watch the England men's squad go out against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup last summer. But it is on par with the 11.3 million viewers in the U.K. that tuned in across all platforms on BT Sport to watch this year's Champions League final on June 1 between two British teams: Liverpool F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur.