Curse of ITV

BBC vs ITV for the World Cup?

I’ve had a few days to digest it, but it’s probably only just sinking in – England are playing in the World Cup semi-finals!

With the match being screened on ITV, the usual ‘curse of ITV’ things are going round – that England lose when the matches are shown on ITV, but win when on the BBC – with people expecting us to go out as they had first dibs on the semis.

So, because I have a strange brain that finds these things interesting, I crunched some numbers!

I’ve written before about this, and followed it up with an update not long ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t proof the spreadsheet properly for the latter, so some formula/results were wrong.

I’ve updated  the offending post, and thankfully have some extra results to add to the data since then, so lets have a proper gander at the numbers to see if there’s any truth to the idea England play better on BBC than ITV.


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 numbers

The data show that, since Italia ’90:

BBC have shown 25 tournament games, with England

  • winning 60% (15 games)
  • losing 28% (7)
  • drawing 12% (3)

ITV have shown 24 tournament games, with England

  • winning 25% (6)
  • losing 25% (6)
  • drawing 50% (12)

So, looking it it simplistically, you’re more likely to see a win on BBC, but also fractionally more likely to see a loss on there too, as half of ITV’s games have been draws.

This is due to the types of games they’ve been showing – we’re used to not seeing England progress very well, so they’ve had a lot of group games (20 of their 24 games), where draws are an option – not so much a possibility in knockouts!

How important are the games?

So, I looked at what I call the cruciality of the game (no, it’s not a word, but it sounds cool!).

Looking at the crucial games alone, you get:

BBC have shown 14 crucial games

  • 50% wins
  • 42.9% loss
  • 7.1% draw

ITV have shown 7 games

  • 28.6% wins
  • 28.6% loss
  • 42.9% draw

So the basic same pattern – BBC have shown more wins and losses, but that’s having shown twice as many crucial games altogether, and ITV have shown significantly less of both wins and losses, because of the high number of draws (from their high number of group matches!).


Given that, I thought it worth looking at the results for knock out games (which takes out crucial games from the group stages), to try to see how ITV do when they have had games in the latter stages.

That give us:

  • BBC (7 games) – 3 wins (43%), 4 losses (57%)
  • ITV (3 games) – 2 wins (67%), 1 loss (33%)


So, if we are to assume the channel that broadcasts the pictures of a match actually has any impact whatsoever on the result, it can be argued that it’s the BBC that have the worst record for the stage we’ve somehow found themselves in!

Oh, and if it goes to penalties, the BBC have shown 5 since 1990,  and have a 20% success rate, compared to ITV’s 50% from the 2 they’re aired.

It won’t be long until I have another row in the spreadsheet, and I for one hope that it’s not the last row of crucial games I’m adding this year.


One thought on “BBC vs ITV for the World Cup?

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