England’s fiery World Cup opener against Iran, which ended 6-2, was watched by a peak of 8 million viewers at lunchtime yesterday. The spike was similar to that of hosts Qatar’s opener with Ecuador.
The match came nowhere close to England’s first match at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which reached a high of 18.6 million, although that match was played in the evening.
An average of 5.7 million viewers watched an almost four-hour program on TBEN One yesterday as England kicked off their tournament with a hugely convincing victory. Later 5M peak watched Senegal vs Netherlands on ITV and a hefty 11.5M peak tuned in to the evening opener of USA vs Wales which ended 1-1.
Viewing figures for major sporting events are often deceptively low, as the British rating agency Barb does not take into account viewing figures in pubs.
England’s game was in a sense overshadowed by things off the pitch.
The Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem in protest of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody and England captain Harry Kane dropped plans to wear a One Love armband at the last minute after football association FIFA said that he would get a yellow card for that. So. TBEN pundit Alex Scott, an outspoken critic of the Qatari regime and its human rights record, visibly wore the bracelet on live broadcast.