Channel 4 attracts 8.4 million August 30, 2005

Trent Bridge climax attracts record TV audience

Cricinfo staff

The climax of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Sunday attracted a record television audience of more than eight million.

At around 6.15pm, as England clawed their way to victory, the audience peaked at 8.4 million, almost 50% of people watching television in the UK at the time. Across the day, the average was 4.3 million viewers, the best in the six years Channel 4 have been televising cricket.

The previous peak was the 7.7 million who tuned in for the final overs of the Old Trafford Test and, coincidently, the same figure that watched the final of Big Brother. "The figures show the popularity of Channel 4's coverage and this series is a fitting climax to our coverage of the England Test team," a Channel 4 spokesman said.

And while Channel 4, which loses the rights to live cricket at the end of the summer, could be forgiven for marginalizing its coverage, it has offered the BBC live coverage of the St Ledger at Doncaster rather than interrupt its broadcast of the third day's play at The Oval.

Racing has for many years been at the heart of Channel 4's output, making the offer all the more remarkable. There had been talk of showing a delayed broadcast of the race, one of the five Classics, or of moving the start time to coincide with the tea interval at The Oval. But the latter was ruled out when it was realised that tea was a moveable feast depending on the state of the game.

Such has been the global interest in the series that Channel 4 have been approached by a number of countries, including Norway and Japan, to take coverage of the fifth Test.