The first ever Premier League match to be broadcast on the BBC attracted a peak audience of almost 4m viewers yesterday, as the top-flight football competition returns to TV after months of lockdown.
Last night’s match between Bournemouth and Crystal palace on BBC One pulled in 3.9m viewers, making up almost a quarter of the UK’s TV audience yesterday.
The figure inched close to breaking the Premier League viewing record, currently held by the “Aguerooooo!” Manchester derby in 2012 which was watched by just over 4m people.
Yesterday’s match, which finished 2-0 to Crystal Palace, marked the first time top-flight English league football had been shown on the BBC in the Premier League’s 32-year history.
In addition to its live TV audience, more than 660,000 people watched the game across the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport digital platforms.
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.
A large bulk of the 90 remaining Premier League matches will be available to watch either on free-to-air TV or non-paywalled version of subscription channels. The next match to be shown for free on the BBC will be Norwich v Everton on Wednesday 24 June, when Manchester United v Sheffield United will play at the same time on Sky’s free-to-air Pick channel.
The return of Match of the Day to its usual BBC One slot last night drew in more than 2.7m viewers, as punters tuned in for their slice of commentary after football teams played to empty stadiums around the country.
Teams showed their support for recent anti-racism protests, with players and officials taking a knee before kicking off, and Black Lives Matter replacing names on the backs of shirts.