BBC or ITV for England success?

This post is out of date and I missed some errors in the data – please see my more recent post after the Sweden game for a better update.

During Euro 2016 I was ill, and like most people, got bored of daytime TV and decided to research the truth of the persistent theory that England win more football matches on BBC than ITV.

Following our subsequent smiting by the sons of Óðinn, I was in a bad mood, so never got round to updating it.

Now, as qualification from the groups stages of Russia 2018 is assured, and the final game is on ITV, I thought I’d update my research!

You can read more about my approach to the data gathering in my original post but the gist of it is:

  • I only looked at recognised international tournaments (Euros and World Cups) themselves, not the qualifying.
  • I tried to include as much data as possible so included things like group/knock out stage and what tournament it was.
  • I also included a crude measure of how crucial the game was e.g. opening group games are relatively low pressure, as there’s two games left to try to get through. But if you lose that, the second one becomes crucial in a way it wouldn’t be if you’d won. Ditto if you won the first two, the third doesn’t matter as much.
  • The results of drawn matches that went to penalties are classed as either wins or losses.
  • I’ve removed matches where they were shown simultaneously on both channels

The data I’ve cobbled together shows that:

  • BBC have shown 24 games – 14 wins, 3 draws and 7 losses
  • ITV have shown 22 games – 5 wins, 12 draws and 5 losses

Which, in percentage terms, looks like:

Russia 2018 broadcasters basic

This shows the previous trend remains – ITV have had less (22.7%) losses in the matches they’ve shown than the BBC (29.2%)!

As before, if you want to see a win, the BBC is the preferred choice with 58.3% – spanking ITV’s 22.7%.

ITV maintain their unfortunate record of being the place to watch a draw, with 54.5% of games being a stalemate, compared to the BBC’s (12.5%).

Looking at the ‘crucial’ games discussed above, we get the below table:

Win 46.2% 20.0%
Lose 46.2% 40.0%
Draw 7.7% 40.0%

This shows that for the crucial matches – the BBC come out on top for wins, and ITV do indeed have a (marginally) worse record for losses. Though it must be noted that the actual underlying numbers are low as ITV have only shown 5 crucial games exclusively, compared to the BBC’s 13.


Despite us crashing out of Euro ’16 on ITV, the figures still suggest the whimsical banter of Roy Keane on ITV isn’t a factor in the success of the England team.

Since Italia ’90, England have now competed in 14 knock out games at nine international tournaments (they failed to qualify for ’94 and ’08, and failed to progress beyond the group stages in ’92, ’00, and ’14).

Of these, ITV has exclusively shown only three games – that pesky Argentina match in ’98 (which is probably the ultimate source of the anti ITV theory among my generation), Belgium in ’90 and Iceland in 2016.

This gives them a the same 33% success rate as the BBC who’ve had six exclusive knock out games, two wins, four losses.

For me, the real point is that ITV get given/choose crap games. They’ve had a ridiculous number of group games (19 out of 22), and of them, only 3 were actually crucial because of either the number of games to go, or earlier results.

The results of these were two draws and a loss. Not a wonderful record, but also not large enough to be considered a trend.

With at least two more games to go for England, we could get some minor tweaks to this, but the Belgium game (ITV) isn’t crucial as we’re already through to the knock-outs.

Hopefully there’ll be a few more games to play so I can keep the spreadsheet growing!


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