Lionesses’ World Cup final defeat sets new record for UK’s most-watched women’s match

The Lionesses making their way out onto the pitch in Australia. Credit: PA

England’s World Cup Final with Spain was watched by an average of 13.3 million people on TV, a new UK record for a women’s football match and one of the biggest audiences of the year so far.

The number of viewers peaked at 14.8 million in the closing minutes of the Lionesses’ 1-0 defeat in Sydney, according to overnight data released by the ratings organisation Barb.

The figures are the combined TV audience from kick-off to final whistle across BBC One and ITV, both of which showed the game live.

It also includes people who watched the match on their TV set using the BBC iPlayer or ITVX, but does not include non-TV devices.

An average of 13.3 million people watched the final on TV in the UK. Credit: PA

The average TV audience for Sunday’s final was more than two million higher than the previous record for a women’s football match, which was set at the Euro 2022 final at Wembley when just over 11 million viewers watched the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1.

The biggest TV audience of 2023 so far was for the King’s Coronation service at Westminster Abbey on May 6, which was seen by an average of 18.8 million people across 11 channels.

In the men’s 2022 World Cup, England’s quarter-final defeat by France in December attracted an average audience based on overnight ratings of 20.4 million from kick-off to final whistle.

The match was shown only by ITV and was the year’s most-watched broadcast by a single channel.

That game had a prime time spot of 7pm on a Saturday evening compared to the Lionesses' 11am match on Sunday.

The men's defeat last year was still some way behind the combined average TV audience for the Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey in September, which was watched by 26.2 million people across a range of channels including BBC One and Two, ITV and Sky News.

The final of the men’s 2020 Euros – which took place in July 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic – saw overnight ratings averaging 29.8 million.

The match, which ended with England losing to Italy on penalties, was broadcast on both BBC One and ITV and attracted the biggest TV audience since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

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