BBC 1 has claimed that for the entire tournament viewing figures for BBC 1's coverage was 50 per cent higher than for ITV 1. The average audience for BBC 1 was 4.6 million compared to ITV 1's 3 million. BBC 1's lead over the commercial broadcaster in the 1998 tournament held in France was nine per cent.
For the matches that were simultaneously broadcast by both channels BBC 1's audience outstripped the opposition by 3:1.
BBC director of sport Peter Salmon said: 'We've earned the right to say that the BBC is yet again the place for the big occasion.'
An ITV spokesman defended the commercial station's coverage saying it had been a 'commercial and critical success.' The channel aired the Sweden versus England match, which was the most watched game of the tournament with a match audience of 12.6 million (82.1 per cent). The channel's slot averages for the matches also increased. The largest rise came in the 12.30 that rose from a year-to-date average of 1.3 million to 3.7 million for the tournament.