Australia’s semi-final loss against England to dump the home team out of soccer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) yesterday (August 16) has become the largest domestic television event – sport or otherwise – since 2001.
In the UK, meanwhile, the public-service BBC broadcaster brought in a peak audience of 7.3 million watching on TV and another 3.8 million streams across the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Online services. The game was the most-watched of the tournament so far in the UK.
According to domestic commercial rightsholder Seven Network and national ratings firm OzTam, the match, which ended 3-1 to England, reached 11.15 million Australians nationally and had an average audience of 7.13 million – more than double a State of Origin game or the NRL or AFL grand finals.
Around 975,000 viewers watched on streaming platform 7plus, which Seven said is a new record for streaming.
Indeed, the final figure is likely to be higher with OzTam numbers not including out-of-home viewing at pubs, live sites, and stadiums. It also doesn’t include people that streamed the game via pay-TV operator Optus Sport, which also holds rights.
Optus said the match was its fourth-highest ratings program ever on the platform, just behind the Matildas’ weekend match against France, which was third.
Optus holds the main rights to the tournament to show all 64 games, which it shows through its subscription streaming service Optus Sports. Seven has rights to show one game per day, including Australia’s fixtures.
Australia’s quarter-final victory against France to reach the semi-finals was the previous record holder for a domestic television event, with an estimated average audience of 4.17 million.
Lewis Martin, Seven Melbourne managing director and head of sport, said: “Although their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 journey ended last night, the Matildas have re-written the history books and captured the hearts and minds of the nation with a performance that is sure to inspire generations of Australians for many years to come.
“Seven is beyond proud to have played a part in bringing Australia together around our screens, as the Matildas’ performance captured the Australian spirit like nothing we have seen in decades.”
In terms of the UK coverage numbers, meanwhile, as well as the aforementioned TV and live-streaming audience, there were 2.7 million requests for clips and highlights from the game.
The BBC and commercial free-to-air broadcaster ITV confirmed their joint rights deal for the tournament as part of a wider tie-up between governing body FIFA and the European Broadcasting Union, in mid-June.
Australia will now take on Sweden in Saturday’s playoff for third place, which will also be shown on Seven and 7plus.
The final between England and Spain will be broadcast by Seven in Australia and by both the BBC and ITV in the UK on Sunday (August 20).