Lineker > Chiles: BBC wins battle for World Cup ratings

The BBC comprehensively beat ITV for ratings during the World Cup final. broadbandchoices looks at how the figures break down and why we should treasure both sides’ coverage.

Millions of us turned on our TVs last night to bear witness to the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. It was a hard-fought game, but thanks to a late goal by Mario Götze, Germany lifted the trophy for a fourth time.

But the World Cup wasn't the only competition reaching its climax last night. There was also the battle between the BBC and ITV to see whose coverage of the final would attract the most viewers, and…well, put it this way - if the BBC was Germany, ITV was Brazil.

Both channels broadcast the game live. The BBC's coverage attracted an average of 12.09 million viewers, peaking at 16.11 million around 10pm. ITV attracted just 2.86 million on average, with a peak of 3.64 million, also at 10pm.

That the BBC won the ratings battle isn't surprising - it typically beats ITV for World Cup viewers - but still, that's quite the trouncing.

Part of the reason for the BBC's dominance has been attributed to the fact that it was Alan Hansen's final appearance on the Match of the Day sofa. The stone-faced Scot's been providing punditry for 22 years, and his departure will leave quite the hole in the Match of the Day panel.

If ITV can take any comfort, it's in the fact its ratings were a marginal gain on 2010's final. What's more, the BBC's faced significant criticism for its coverage, including 445 complaints about Phil Neville's oddly robotic co-commentary of England vs Italy.

However, viewers and critics were also uncomplimentary about much of ITV's coverage, especially Adrian Chiles and co lounging around in shorts on a Brazilian beach. The horror! The horror!

Overall though, we'd say this year's World Cup has been a victory for viewers. It's been easy to tune into matches, and while there's been more than a few cringey moments and bloopers - Jonathan Pearce being baffled by goalline technology comes to mind - that's all part of the fun, right?

It's also worth treasuring the convenience, because if you love football on TV, things are about to get a lot more complicated. The Barclays Premier League kicks off on 16 August, and coverage is split between Sky Sports, which will show 116 matches live over the course of the season, and BT Sport, which shows 38, but gets first pick for 18 of them.

It's going to be hard keeping track of who's playing on what channel, and you'll need BT Sport and Sky Sports if you want to watch every televised match.

On the plus side, it's not hard to get the channels. You can watch BT Sport online and via smartphone app for free if you have BT broadband, and if you have BT TV, you can watch it on TV for free too. BT Sport's also available on Virgin Media and Sky TV for an additional monthly fee.

There are now almost as many ways to get Sky Sports as there are sports to watch. It's available online without needing a particular broadband or TV package via NOW TV and Sky Go, as well as through Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BT.

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