BBC sets yet another women's soccer viewing record as Lionesses bow out of World Cup
England’s dramatic 2-1 defeat against USA in last night’s Fifa Women’s World Cup semi-final attracted the highest-ever UK television audience for a women’s soccer match, an average audience figure of 10.3 million.
The match, shown on the UK's public-service broadcaster the BBC, featured late drama as England had a goal ruled out, a penalty saved and a player sent off all while searching for an equaliser.
The audience figure for the match, which took place in Lyon, France, equated to a share of 48 per cent.
The audience peaked at 11.7 million, a share of 50.8 per cent, as England crashed out at the semi-finals of a major tournament for the third time running.
The BBC’s previous highest average audience for a women’s soccer match was 6.8 million, achieved during England’s 3-0 quarter-final victory against Norway last Thursday, with a peak of 7.6 million.
Before this tournament, the previous record average audience for any women’s game on the BBC was 4 million, achieved during England's semi-final match against the Netherlands in the 2017 European Championships.
England’s group matches against Scotland, Argentina and Japan produced average viewing figures of 4.6 million, 4.4 million, and 4.2 million, respectively.
Fox, the USA national broadcaster, secured a 5.5 overnight television rating for US' semi final victory. The US team's semi final win against Germany at the 2015 women's World Cup drew a 6.1 rating.
USA will now face one of either the Netherlands or Sweden, who play each other tonight, in the World Cup final on Sunday in Lyon.
Elsewhere, Fifa, soccer’s worldwide governing body, has published a global report on the state of women’s soccer, featuring data from 198 of its 211 national member associations.
The Fifa Women’s Football Survey 2019 found that 73 per cent of Fifa’s member associations have an active women’s national team, while 76 per cent have “developed a women’s football strategy”. The survey which formed the basis of the report’s data also found that while 13.3 million women play an organised form of soccer worldwide, 9.5 million of these are in USA.
The report was presented to the inaugural meeting of the Fifa Professional Women’s Task Force, a body recently brought together to “identify key areas and measures that can accelerate the future growth of the women’s professional game”, yesterday in Lyon.
The meeting involved all member associations being requested to identify areas to priorities in terms of growing women’s soccer in their countries.
Lydia Nsekera, the Fifa council member for Burundi who is chairing the task force, said: “We can see that the priorities vary greatly depending on where people are coming from. So it will be the job of this task force to define common objectives that can make a real and lasting difference for the good of the women’s game.”