England’s 2020 UEFA European Championship final defeat at the hands of Italy was watched by a ‘historic’ peak audience of 31 million viewers in the UK across the BBC and ITV combined, according to BARB figures supplied by overnights.tv.
As the two rival broadcasters went head-to-head for viewers, with the highly anticipated showdown being screened on both channels, BBC triumphed over ITV, with 25 million tuning in to watch host Gary Lineker, alongside pundits and former England internationals Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.
Compared to the six million that opted for ITV’s coverage, which featured Mark Pougatch as presenter, alongside Ian Wright, Roy Keane and Gary Neville in the studio.
On BBC One, Jermaine Jenas and Guy Mowbray were on hand to guide Three Lions fans through proceedings on commentary, with Alex Scott, Gabby Logan and Jurgen Klinsmann all in place at pitchside at Wembley Stadium.
Meanwhile, ITV stood by Sam Matterface and Lee Dixon as the commentary duo, despite facing criticism for their input during England’s semi-final victory over Denmark. Elsewhere, Emma Hayes, Ashley Cole and Seema Jaswal offered their opinions from pitchside.
Luke Shaw opened the scoring within minutes for England; a lead which England clung on to until Leonardo Bonucci appeared in the 67th minute to equalise for Italy.
With the two sides unable to be separated during extra-time at 1-1, the Euro 2020 final was decided by penalties, with the Azzurri claiming the silverware on a 3-2 shoot-out score-line, despite England shot-stopper Jordan Pickford making two saves for the Three Lions.
However, the fixture will still go down as the third most watched television event in UK history, behind the 1966 World Cup final which drew in 32.3 million viewers and Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997 which reached 32.1 million.
Although the ‘ITV curse’, which refers to the commercial channel airing a worrying amount of England defeats, including Gareth Southgate’s side’s exit from the 2018 World Cup at the hands of Croatia, was talked about prior to the match, the figures have likely been attributed to the proportion of advertisements shown on ITV.
The channel did post a historic 27 million-strong viewership as England saw off Denmark to reach the final of Euro 2020, but the figures fell short in the final.
In the wake of Italy’s historic victory, extending Roberto Mancini’s side’s unbeaten streak to 34 games, it has been suggested that UEFA is weighing up the possibility of expanding the continental competition to a 32-team tournament.
The decision to add a further eight teams to the mix is said to be under consideration as part of a review of the format ahead of the Euro 2028 bidding process, according to the Associated Press.