England’s T20 international against Pakistan draws peak viewership of 2.7m on BBC

BBC hit first live cricket broadcast in 21 years for six as England’s Twenty20 international against Pakistan draws peak viewership of 2.7million

  • The BBC attracted a peak audience of 2.7million for England against Pakistan
  • The Twenty20 international was the BBC’s first live cricket match in 21 years
  • Sky Sports’ coverage of the same fixture attracted a peak of 490,000 viewers 

The BBC’s first live cricket match in 21 years proved to be a ratings success – attracting a peak TV audience of 2.7million.

England’s four-wicket win over Pakistan in the second T20 international at Old Trafford was the first game the Beeb have shown since the 1999 World Cup.

Isa Guha fronted the coverage, with pundits including Jimmy Anderson, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell.

England’s Twenty20 international against Pakistan drew a peak of 2.7million on the BBC

Isa Guha presented the coverage which was the BBC's first live cricket broadcast in 21 years

Isa Guha presented the coverage which was the BBC’s first live cricket broadcast in 21 years

And the match on BBC One raked in an impressive 17.3 per cent share of Sunday afternoon’s TV audience, with an average viewership of 1.7m.

In contrast, Sky Sports’ coverage of the same fixture – when England captain Eoin Morgan’s 33-ball 66 inspired the hosts to victory – attracted a peak of 490,000 and an average of 331,000.

The Beeb’s audience for Sunday’s game also dwarves the 805,000 who tuned in for Friday night’s rain-affected first T20 international, which was only shown on Sky.

Jimmy Anderson (left) and Michael Vaughan (right) worked as pundits for the BBC broadcast

Jimmy Anderson (left) and Michael Vaughan (right) worked as pundits for the BBC broadcast

The latest viewing figures will be of keen interest to the ECB, who are desperate to widen cricket’s reach after years behind a paywall.

As part of the agreed with the BBC in 2017, which came into force this year, two England men’s T20 internationals will be shown by the broadcaster, as well as one women’s game.

The Beeb’s next live games will be the England men’s second T20 against Australia at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday, and then the women’s fixture with West Indies at Derby on September 26.

Sky Sports' coverage of the same fixture at Emirates Old Trafford attracted a peak of 490,000

Sky Sports’ coverage of the same fixture at Emirates Old Trafford attracted a peak of 490,000

This year also saw the BBC take over the highlights of England’s men’s Test matches and their best audience came on the second day of the final Pakistan Test, when 1.7m tuned in.

The last time an England men’s international was shown live on free-to-air TV was last year’s World Cup final, when Channel 4 attracted a peak audience of 4.8m for the thrilling win over New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the Beeb also broadcast their first live Premier League match when football returned after lockdown and a peak of 3.9m saw Crystal Palace’s victory over Bournemouth.

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