Monday 29 June 2020 4:54 pm

BBC coverage of FA Cup scores biggest audience since football’s return

Saturday’s FA Cup match between Norwich City and Manchester United was the most-watched UK football match since football returned to TV screens after months of lockdown.

The quarter-final match, which finished 2-1 to Manchester United, saw 6.4m people tune into the action on the BBC, with a further 1.7m views on iPlayer. 

Read more: When and where to watch the Premier League after lockdown hiatus

Sunday’s semi-final clash between Newcastle and Manchester City also drew in big audience numbers, with 5.1m tuning in on BBC One and 1.1m watching the match online.

The FA Cup matches beat audience numbers for the Premier League, which raked in 3.9m viewers in its first ever match to be broadcast for free on the BBC between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace earlier this month. 

The free-to-air broadcast on the BBC came after pressure from culture minister Oliver Dowden to “widen access for fans to view live coverage”, as the Premier League returns to UK screens following a three-month long hiatus during the coronavirus crisis.

Read more: Sky to claw back £330m from sports cancellations ahead of Premier League restart

Steve Rudge, BBC lead executive for football,  said “We’re delighted to see that the return of FA Cup action on the BBC was welcomed so strongly by fans. We look forward to capturing the end of the tournament with four very strong teams remaining culminating in what should be a thrilling final.”

The FA Cup is set to return to screens on 18 July, when Manchester United will play Chelsea and Manchester City take on Arsenal in the semi-finals at Wembley. 

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