The BBC’s broadcast of the match between Southampton and Manchester City was the most-watched Premier League game ever, with an audience of 5.7 million across all platforms, including the BBC Sport website. This figure is significantly higher than the peak of 4 million that watched the 2012 Manchester derby.
“Having the Premier League has been great for our viewers. We were delighted to deliver this game to the widest free-to-air audience,” commented Steve Rudge, BBC Lead Executive of Football.
The BBC is not typically a rights holder to the league, but was handed four matches as a part of “Project Restart,” which is the nickname being given to the Premier League's attempts to resume the season that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first time that the UK’s pubcaster has shown live coverage of the competition.
During the Premier League’s lockdown return, the league has been showing impressive viewing figures. Sky Sports’ coverage of Manchester City vs Arsenal attracted a peak of 3.4 million across two channels and an average of 3.1 million. The first match back after an absence of 100 days – a scoreless draw between Aston Villa and Sheffield United – managed a peak of 2.7 million.