First audience figures in for Euro 2008
The doom-mongers have been proved wrong about Euro 2008. It has unquestionably had a big hole in it because of the failure of the home nations to qualify. But audiences are still coming to it in large numbers and I am 100 per cent confident they will grow further.
The biggest TV audience so far was a peak of over seven million for Netherlands v Italy on ITV1. So we are looking forward to France taking on the Dutch on BBC One on Friday night and then the France v Italy clash next Tuesday. But other figures have been strong too; more than five million watched Germany v Poland and a large tea-time audience tuned in for Spain's thrilling performance against Russia.
These figures show, in our view, that major international football tournaments should remain free-to-air. They attract people who like to witness the drama of the top stars in the spotlight, and in a world that's increasingly networked we can enjoy the ups and downs of our European neighbours even without our own teams in the fray.
What is interesting as well is the way the Euros are catching hold among our online users. This week we had an all-time record for the use of audio and video on this website - driven partly by the ability to replay that controversial Ruud van Nistelrooy goal. There were also huge numbers of comments on our You Are The Ref blog - all of which we enjoyed reading (yes, even the satirical one about Val Doonican).
One of our ambitions in BBC Sport is to bring together our strengths in TV, radio, online, mobile and new platforms to deliver sport where and when you want it. The rights agreement around the Euros allows us to do that, and so will our deals for the Olympics, the next two World Cups, Formula One and the Football League.
As ever, we welcome your feedback on how that's working for you. Meantime we are waiting to see whether or when Euro 2008 breaks through the 10m barrier. Given more than five million watched the waterlogged Switzerland v Turkey game on BBC Two, despite the rival attraction of The Apprentice, there is every indication it will.