England’s opening match in the Rugby World Cup was watched by a peak of 4.8 million viewers on ITV1 on Saturday September 10th – an impressive start given the inconvenient scheduling times for UK-based fans.
The event is now the third most watched sporting event in the world – behind the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics – and offers a unique opportunity for advertisers to target elusive upmarket males. Provided the England team’s performances improve, viewing figures for the knock-out stages look set to provide some of ITV’s highest ratings for the year.
Average audience numbers for the ITV1 coverage of England’s mind-numbingly dire victory over Argentina was 3.2 million viewers between 9am and 12pm, which means the channel managed to take an impressive 33.6% share of the available audience.
Previous tournaments have also attracted big ratings, with England’s evening semi-final victory over France in 2007 peaking at 12.4 million and the World Cup Final win over Australia in 2003 peaking with a staggering 14.5 million.
ITV are the sole UK TV broadcaster of the tournament, while live radio commentary is exclusive to TalkSPORT. The event marks a significant coup for the commercial radio broadcaster, which continues to accumulate live sports commentary by targeting BBC Five Live listeners.