Just under 31m people tuned into England’s Euro 2020 final loss last night, making the heart-wrenching fixture one of the largest TV audiences ever recorded.
Viewer numbers peaked at 30.95m during the tense penalty shootout against Italy at Wembley, which was broadcast on both the BBC and ITV.
An average of 29.85m people watched across the whole match, according to overnight figures.
The numbers make the game by far the biggest TV event of the year and one of the largest audiences of all time.
It marks the highest ratings since the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 and is slightly less than the 32m viewers who tuned into England’s 1966 World Cup victory — though changes in measurements make the figures hard to compare.
The TV audience was also higher than the 27m people who watched Boris Johnson announce the first coronavirus lockdown in March last year.
The BBC said 25m people tuned into its coverage, while ITV is set to announce an audience of 6m.
The figures do not include the number of people who watched the game on BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, meaning the actual total is likely to be higher.
While the game ended in heartbreak for England fans, the viewing figures will come as a major boost to the broadcasters.
London-listed ITV has previously pinned hopes of an advertising rebound on the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, as well as the return of hit dating show Love Island.
Rebecca Candeland, head of broadcast at behavioural planning agency Total Media, said: “While Italy were (unfortunately) the winners on the pitch, ITV and brands that advertised during the game were the winners nationally.
“ITV took a risk in its game section versus the BBC, but ultimately came out on top by securing the sole broadcast of the England vs Denmark semi-final and joint rights to the final. With both games achieving two of the highest TV audiences this year, ITV has been able to ramp up prices for advertising spots on ITV hub and on ITV1 and therefore have been able to drive growth during the tournament.”