Monday, July 10, 2006

World Cup Ratings [J. Mark English] --

The total audience in the U.K. for the World Cup final match between Italy and France Sunday peaked at 20.5 million Sunday, with 17 million watching coverage by the BBC and just 3.5 million on the commercial rival ITV, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today (Monday), citing unofficial overnight figures. The ITV figures not only represented the biggest gap ever against the BBC for shared coverage of a sports event but also the worst all-day ratings ever recorded for the commercial channel. The BBC also scored strongly with its coverage of the Wimbledon's men's finals Sunday, which peaked with 7.1 million viewers -- 44.8 percent of the viewing audience. In the U.S., final figures were not immediately available for the two sports contests, but published reports indicated over the weekend that audiences for the World Cup games in the final rounds on ABC and ESPN have averaged about 3.8 million, up more than 75 percent over the 2002 World Cup, while ratings for the games on Spanish-language Univision stations are up about 134 percent over the 2002 contest.