Rugby World Cup breaks UK domestic viewership records for second straight week
The 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) continues to shatter domestic viewership records in the United Kingdom, with a remarkable milestone achieved for the second consecutive week.
The semi-final clash between South Africa and England captivated the British audience – won 16-15 by the Springboks in a nail-biter – drawing a staggering 7.2 million viewers in the UK.
The epic semi-final showdown was televised by the commercial broadcaster ITV and left fans on the edge of their seats as South Africa snatched victory with a late penalty goal. The match maintained an average of 7.2 million viewers throughout, reaching its peak with a riveting 8.7 million during the tense final 10 minutes.
These impressive figures don’t include the viewership from ITV’s ITVX streaming platform, indicating a broader online audience was also engaged.
The game unfolded at the iconic Stade de France in Paris, with a live attendance of 78,098 fans.
When considering the overall broadcast, accounting for pre-game and post-game analysis, the semi-final still boasted an impressive average of 5.2 million viewers. This achievement solidifies its place as ITV’s second-largest broadcast event in 2023.
The excitement wasn’t confined to the UK alone. French free-to-air broadcaster TF1 also enjoyed remarkable viewership, attracting an average of 7.3 million viewers and reaching a slightly higher peak of 8.8 million during the game.
This follows last week’s quarter-final between South Africa and host nation France, which marked France’s most-watched television event of the year. The quarter-final match, also characterised by late-game drama as South Africa squeaked through 29-28, recorded an astounding 16.5 million average viewers for TF1, peaking at 18.4 million. This encounter surpassed all other television events in France in 2023.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup’s opening fixture, where France triumphed over heavyweights New Zealand, also drew significant attention, with an average of 15.4 million viewers – marking the highest viewership in France up to that point – and peaking at 17 million viewers.
The semi-final was a rematch of the 2019 RWC final in Japan, which South Africa also won, earning the distinction of being the most-watched final in rugby history with a staggering 857 million global viewers.
South Africa will defend its title against archrival New Zealand in the 2023 RWC final at Stade de France on Saturday, October 28 (6am, Sunday, October 29 AEDT).