Women's World Cup: England v USA attracts highest peak audience of 2019

England's World Cup semi-final defeat by the United States attracted the highest peak television audience of the year so far with 11.7m setting a new record for women's football in the UK.

That is 50.8% of the available audience and smashes the previous best for a women's game of 7.6m for England's quarter-final win over Norway.

England play Sweden or the Netherlands in Saturday's third-place play-off.

The USA take on the winner of that semi-final in Sunday's final.

The 11.7m figure is the year's top audience based on a five-minute peak, as the semi-final attracted an average audience of 10.3m.

Episode one of BBC One's Line of Duty is the most watched programme overall of 2019 with 13.2m based on 28-day viewing data.

'It pulls girls into playing'

Former Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn says the World Cup has moved women's football from an "Olympics sport" to the mainstream.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What's been so different and great about this tournament is the sheer number of people watching the Lionesses on TV.

"It's moved from being an interesting Olympic-type sport to an absolute mainstream sport. The importance of that is that adds attraction, it pulls girls and women into playing.

"At the top end, what will make the product of the Women's Super League more attractive is getting more exposure in the millions - so being on terrestrial TV is important - making sure the games are played in the elite stadiums that the men play in, and continuing to improve the quality of the football.

"At the end of the day it's a leisure pursuit and if people see great quality football being played then they'll come and watch it."

How the audience has grown

It is the fourth time a new record peak audience for women's football has been recorded by the BBC during the groundbreaking tournament. Peak figures are based on those watching for five minutes or more.

9 June: England 2-1 Scotland - 6.1m

23 June: England 3-0 Cameroon - 6.9m

27 June: England 3-0 Norway - 7.6m

2 July: England 1-2 United States - 11.7m

How has the World Cup inspired you?

What impact has the Women's World Cup had on you? Has it inspired someone you know to take up football? Has it sparked an interest in the game you are going to continue into the new season? Let us know here and we will publish the best stories.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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