England v Tunisia viewing figures show how important live streaming is becoming

It was a night to remember for England fans. Nothing beats the feeling of a last minute winner, even if the raucous celebrations might have been more suited to a winning goal in the final, rather than a strike to scrape past an unadventurous Tunisia team in the first game of the group stage.

Still, opening games of World Cups are huge events, no matter who you’re playing.

The numbers on the BBC’s coverage show it: not only was it the best-watched event of the night, but it was the biggest draw of 2018 so far in Britain.

And yes, that includes the Royal Wedding – what is it about dull affairs involving overhyped, overpaid celebrities where the only action that really matters happens at the very end?

Interestingly, on top of the peak audience of 18.3m people who watched the game live on BBC TV, another 3m or so requested the game on the iPlayer, bringing the total above the 20m mark – though we don’t yet know how many people actually watched the whole game on iPlayer and who just checked in on their phone for two minutes while venturing to put the kitchen to put the kettle on.

The numbers, nonetheless, are huge. But that’s to be expected: England’s first game at the World Cup, with an exciting and young team who are much more relatable than the ‘golden’ generations gone by, was always going to draw the crowds.

What is of interest, though, is the sheer size of the audience watching on TV, and the numbers looking to watch on iPlayer. 18.3m v 3m shows that live TV certainly isn’t dead – or even dying. But on the other hand, with 3m people requesting to watch on a stream, that’s certainly a strong showing.

Once again, though, it proves the draw of free-to-air TV in the digital age will get tonnes of interest. And it proves, too, that providing fans with a choice of viewing methods is of the utmost importance.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 799 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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