An average of 16.6m people and a peak audience of 18.7m across TV, iPlayer and online watched England’s World Cup victory over Wales on the BBC, a tournament record for the broadcaster.
The total represents a significant increase on the draw with United States in England’s second group game, despite Gareth Southgate’s team being all but through before kick-off against Rob Page’s side. ITV attracted an average audience of 15.1m for Friday’s match, with the broadcaster reporting that 11.9m on average had watched the full broadcast, including pre-match build-up.
A rotated England team cruised to a 3-0 victory over Wales, with Marcus Rashford among those to impress. The result ensured England topped Group B, with Wales finishing bottom of the pile after picking up just one point from their three games.
The BBC figures, which come from ratings agency Barb and have been shared by the national broadcaster, represent most but not all of the UK total. The game was also broadcast in Welsh on S4C, with those numbers not part of the total.
In addition, a number of viewers will have watched the game on iPlayer rather than on the live television broadcast. These, too, were not part of the initial overnight numbers when they were released.
England’s next game will take place on Sunday evening, with Southgate’s men up against Senegal. The reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions booked their place in the knockout stages with a victory over Ecuador, with captain Kalidou Koulibaly deciding the close contest.
“Definitely compared to Russia, I think there’s a different mentality about the whole group,” Southgate said after the Wales game, referencing his team’s run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. “There’s more belief.