Euro 2024 kicks off with bumper audiences, UK numbers soar for ITV and BBC

(Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
(Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

German fans tuned in in their millions to watch the hosts thrash Scotland in the Euro 2024 curtain-raiser, which drew a 10-year audience high in the UK for a tournament-opener.

Germany’s 5-1 victory over Scotland in Munich on Friday evening was watched by an average of 22.5 million viewers on public-service broadcaster ZDF. The game, which kicked off at 9pm local time, attracted a market share of 69 per cent.

ARD will show Germany’s two other group stages fixtures, against Hungary on June 19 and Switzerland on June 23. The two broadcasters sub-licensed rights to 34 matches from Deutsche Telekom, which will show all 51 matches live in UHD, five of which will be exclusive. Commercial broadcaster RTL will show 12 games.

In the UK, commercial broadcaster ITV drew an average audience of 9.1 million and a peak of 10.4 million. That makes it the highest peak audience of any TV programme in the UK so far this year, and the highest peak recorded for the opening game of a major football tournament on either ITV or the BBC since the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

England’s opening game of Euro 2024 yesterday (Sunday) evening was shown by public-service broadcaster, the BBC. The 1-0 win over Serbia was watched by an average of 14.22 million viewers, according to BARB overnight figures, with a peak of 15 million.

The average audience is around 5 million more than the most-watched TV show, of any genre, on any platform, in the UK so far this year.

The reigning European Champions Italy got their campaign under way on Saturday night in dramatic fashion, conceding the fastest goal in tournament history, but bouncing back to beat Albania 2-1. Public-broadcaster Rai, which showed the game on its main Rai Uno channel, drew an average of 10.4 million viewers, equal to a 55.7-per-cent share.

Pay-TV’s Sky also showed the match, adding an additional 1.14 million viewers, and taking the combined market share to 61.7 per cent.

The audience was considerably down on the 14.3 million people that watched Italy open the pan-European Euro 2020 (played in 2021 due to Covid-19) against Turkey in Rome. It was also down on all seven matches Italy played at the last Euros.

Earlier in the day, Spain beat Croatia 3-0, with the game winning the night on TV for La1, the main channel of Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. Over 5 million people watched the game, equal to a market share of 50 per cent, with a peak of 5.66 million registered just before full-time.

In the Netherlands, public broadcaster NOS recorded an audience of 4.7 million for the national team’s late 2-1 victory over Poland. The game kicked off at 3pm local time, a key factor in the audience being slightly down on the Netherlands’ opening matches at the 2022 World Cup (4.3 million, 5pm kick-off) and Euro 2020 (5.5 million, 9pm kick-off).

Finally, Switzerland’s impressive 3-1 win over Hungary drew a peak audience of 1.15 million, equal to a market share of 84.2 per cent, for SRF Zwei, the German-language channel of the Swiss public broadcaster SRG SSR. There were an additional 550,000 live streams on SRF’s online platforms.