Future of TV Media Planning and Buying ITV

Brands could pay £400,000 for an ad during England v France World Cup game


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

December 6, 2022 | 10 min read

With the knock-out stages offering one of the easiest opportunities to reach a mass UK audience, advertisers are paying a premium to reach football fans.

England vs Senegal

UK brands paying up to £400,000 for England World Cup TV ads / ITV

According to media buyers familiar with the process, brands could spend as much as £400,000 to advertise on ITV during England’s much-anticipated quarter-final against France at the Qatar World Cup.

The game, which will air Saturday, December 10 at 7pm, will likely draw the second largest live UK TV audience of 2022 (so far), beaten only by the Queen’s funeral.

Brands paid a similar dividend to run a 30-second spot to fans during England’s 3-0 routing of Senegal on Sunday evening.

What we learned from England v Senegal

The latest figures show that during England’s match against Senegal, a peak of 20.4 million viewers across linear and streaming watched the game on ITV from 7pm. In the weeks running up to the game, I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! consistently attracted 10 million, while Strictly Come Dancing twice hit around 9 million and a few of the soaps crept up to 5 million. In short, for audience sizes, nothing comes close to a World Cup.

The Senegal game attracted 1.7 million more viewers than the peak audience for England v Wales in the group stages, showing how interest grows with progression. An average audience of 13.4 million viewers watched the overall coverage of England v Senegal between 6pm and 9.30pm. That was a 61% share of viewing for almost a full evening.

But this isn’t necessarily a success story for linear TV alone as a total of 10.8 million viewers live-streamed the match, making it ITV’s biggest streaming audience for the World Cup so far. This could be the dominant consumption behavior by the time the USA hosts the World Cup.

ITV subsequently announced it will air the England v France fixture, which may well be the most lucrative ad spot of the year. As it stands, the longer a home nation remains in the tournament, the more reach TV can offer advertisers.

How advertisers think about World Cup spots

The final is not the most attractive World Cup fixture for brands. Broadcast duties are split between the BBC and ITV, with a majority usually opting to watch the ad-free coverage on BBC. Furthermore, as the stakes rise, more people opt for communal viewing, particularly in pubs and big public screens. Earlier rounds, therefore, tend to be more lucrative for the commercial broadcaster, says Kieren Mills, head of broadcast for Total Media.

Later games will land during the peak Christmas party season this year. Barb measurement doesn’t capture this, but advertisers know there’s a brand-building opportunity there – especially for those with point-of-sale in venues. Sponsor Budweiser for example will see uplift from this benefit.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

The Euro 2021 final, where England lost to Italy, was viewed across BBC and ITV by almost 22.5 million and advertisers suspect the next fixture could hit around that again.

In 2018, England’s World Cup semi-final defeat enjoyed a peak audience of 26.5 million people on ITV. The final, France v Croatia, saw the smallest UK TV audience for a World Cup final since current records began, with a peak of just 11.4 million. Around 10 million viewers could drop off for subsequent fixtures if England loses.

How these spots are bought

A brand’s media agency will usually plan campaigns weeks and months in advance, which includes booking TV ad spots. That approach doesn’t quite work with the excitement of knockout football. Some brands will want to advertise specifically around England’s progression (like the nation’s sponsors, for example). There’s high demand for these packages, which are generally only affordable to the brands with the biggest budgets.

For the media buyers that secured a spot in advance (a gamble based on England’s chances of progressing in the tournament), a TVC as part of a larger package would likely have cost just over £200,000.

ITV keeps a portion of ad inventory in its back pocket, however, and brands now looking to snap these up will pay a premium of around £400,000, according to buyers familiar with the process. For that fee, they’ll secure an event likely to be viewed by around 20 million Brits.

The rising prevalence of streaming changes this process somewhat. Across England games on the BBC and ITV, streaming roughly encapsulated half the audience – which is a first.

Whereas linear TV ads are ’broadcast’ to many at once (partially its strength), to logged-in users using streaming apps, programmatic video ads can be targeted to households based on their demographics and interests. It’s unclear how much live inventory is being delivered this way at present, but with addressable advertising, more brands could in the future find their audiences during these games at a more affordable price. The World Cup presents the perfect launch moment for streaming service ITVX on (December 8).

Of course, England only feature in a handful of the roughly 30 games ITV will be broadcasting, but there are opportunities to meet football audiences spread across several of those other fixtures instead where there is less demand.

All in, the broadcaster was hoping for a strong quarter from the World Cup after feeling its absence from its summer schedule. It might even be seizing football audiences from BT Sport and Sky with the pause of the Premier League. Regardless, the longer England remain in the tournament, the better it will perform and the more audience it can offer access to.

There is no denying that the World Cup being moved to the winter was an inconvenience for the broadcaster, however. There’s already high demand for TV advertising at this time of year due to the Christmas rush, whereas games in the summer have been described by ITV as an ”island” in an otherwise quiet sea.

As big as the World Cup is, no one match will rival the biggest TV event of the year. The Queen’s funeral accumulated a reported 37.5 million UK viewers (and a reported 4 billion worldwide). It was of course on almost every channel and the public was granted a holiday to watch it. In the UK, advertising around the Queen’s funeral schedule was forbidden, so it merely counts as anecdotal evidence of how many people TV can reach.

Nonetheless, across dozens of games, ITV will have had a much-needed boom and have onboarded more advertisers than it otherwise would have.

England audiences figures so far

  • England v Iran: BBC – 8 million linear, 8 million on iPlayer (record-breaking)

  • England v USA: ITV – 18 million live, only slightly beat by 19.7 million in the USA

  • England v Wales: BBC – 18.7 million on linear for the home nations clash

  • England v Senegal: ITV – a 24 million peak, with half of them on linear and half on streaming

Future of TV Media Planning and Buying ITV

More from Future of TV

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +