More than 17 million Britons turned in to watch England defeat Germany in the Euro 2022 final match on Sunday, a record audience in the U.K. for a women’s soccer match.
The peak audience of 17.4 million for the BBC One broadcast of the final, held in London’s historic Wembley Stadium, made the game the most-watched TV event of the year in Britain.
Eighty percent of all TV viewers in the country were watching when England’s Lionesses scored the extra-time winner to beat Germany 2-1 and claim their first-ever European trophy. An average of 11 million viewers caught the BBC’s entire Match of the Day program, including pre-and-post game analysis, which ran more than four and a half hours.
“We are incredibly proud to have championed women’s football and are thrilled we were able to bring such a special sporting moment to the public,” the BBC’s director general Tim Davie said in a statement. “This was the most-watched women’s football game on U.K. television of all time and the most-watched programme in 2022 so far — and deservedly so.”
Alongside the TV broadcast, the BBC recorded 5.9 million streams of the match on its BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. But the BBC’s figures do not include the millions that caught Sunday’s match at pubs and outdoor fan zones across the country.
Previously, the most-watched women’s soccer match on British TV was the 2019 World Cup semi-final, where a peak of 11.7 million fans watched England get knocked out by eventual tournament winners the United States.
Over in Germany, public broadcaster ARD reported an average audience of 17.9 million — 65 percent of the total TV audience — and a peak viewership of nearly 22 million for the match, both records for women’s soccer. German TV’s previous high-water mark was during the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals when 16.9 million watched as hosts Germany got knocked out by Japan. The last time the German women’s team won the Euros, in 2013, fewer than 9 million viewers tuned in.
Supporters of the women’s game are hopeful that the success of the Euros will have a broader impact on the popularity of the sport. Last year, England’s Football Association signed a three-year licensing deal with Sky Sports and the BBC for the broadcast rights to the Women’s Super League worth around $9.8 million (£8 million) a season, the biggest broadcast deal of any professional women’s football league in the world.