Coverage was shown on both channels for the first time in the women’s game but couldn’t match the record from last year’s Euros final of a 17.4M peak, or the plus-20M who watched the men lose to Italy in the Euros final. The UK audience was well ahead of the previous women’s World Cup final between the U.S. and the Netherlands, however.
The vast majority – around 12M peak – watched on the BBC, according to Barb data from overnights.tv. The two public broadcasters have been sharing coverage throughout, as per normal arrangements with major soccer competitions.
Record audiences had been building throughout the tournament but England’s World Cup ended in tragedy with a 1-0 defeat courtesy of an Olga Carmona goal, with Spain outplaying England for much of the game despite 12 of their players being left out of the squad due to a row with coach Jorge Vilda.
Global audiences go soccer mad
Played in Australia over the past month, the tournament has been garnering huge audiences around the world.
Defying the odds, Australia’s 3-1 semi-final defeat to England was the most watched TV event in Australian history, with 11.15M viewers tuning in – comfortably more than one third of the population in a country where soccer is by no means the national sport. The Matildas’ achievement in finishing fourth (the men have never got past the second round) cannot be understated and captured the nation’s imagination while the tournament was being played on home turf.
In the U.S., Fox coverage was up from 2019 despite time zone headaches (the team’s final game aired at 5 a.m. ET) and a shock early elimination following Megan Rapinoe’s missed penalty, which the soccer icon described as a “sick, dark joke.” The average audience for the team U.S. group stage games was the highest it’s ever been at 4.3M viewers (including one overnight game).
“What’s been proven in this World Cup is that the Women’s World Cup really is here to stay as a major event,” Michael Mulvihill, Fox’s president of insights and analytics, told Deadline last week.
Records also tumbled in other nations.
Following the group stages, China said it had produced the highest audience for a single match anywhere in the world after more than 50M watched the nation’s 5-1 defeat to England, while dark horses Colombia’s first group match beat all ratings for last year’s men’s tournament bar the final, according to FIFA.
The Women’s World Cup has clearly generated soccer fever and proponents of the game will be hoping this continues long into the future.