London — Almost 20-million people in Britain watched England reach the World Cup semifinals on television, viewing figures showed on Sunday, not accounting for the many more who watched in pubs.
England’s World Cup quarterfinal victory over Sweden attracted a huge 89% of available audience to BBC One, with a peak of 19.9-million, the BBC said.
The match had 3.9-million programme requests online, with a record 3.8-million of them live, making it the BBC’s highest online-viewed live programme, the broadcaster said.
Streets across England were deserted on Saturday afternoon as the nation crammed into pubs, gathered around big television screens or stayed at home to watch the national side reach the last four in a World Cup tournament for the first time in 28 years.
When the final whistle blew in Russia, English fans draped in red-and-white flags spilled out on to the streets back at home to celebrate the 2-0 victory and dance to chants of the anthem "football’s coming home".
England manager Gareth Southgate’s young team swept Sweden aside, sparking scenes of unconfined joy all over the country as World Cup fever reached new heights, with the country sweltering in a sum-mer heatwave.
"Cancel your plans for Wednesday night — England have reached their first World Cup semifinal in nearly 30 years," said the Sun on Sunday.
"The dream goes on! England in ecstasy," trumpeted the Mail On Sunday.