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The Matildas' Semi-Final Against England Was Australia's Most-Watched TV Program Since 2001

It didn't turn out the way that the nation hoped, but Sam Kerr and company still smashed records against the Lionesses.
By Sarah Ward
August 17, 2023
By Sarah Ward
August 17, 2023

Australia can't win the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, as every currently heartbroken Aussie is well aware, but the Matildas have kept scoring on and off the field. They've kicked goals, won even more fans, sparked stunning scenes at live-viewing sites around the country and absolutely smashed the ratings — and, over the past month, made plenty of history.

We know that you know that Sam Kerr, Mackenzie Arnold and their teammates lost to England in their semi-final match on Wednesday, August 16, because we know that you were probably watching. How? The just-released ratings figures for the game against the Lionesses. Based on statistics from OzTAM, which captures broadcast audience numbers, the Seven Network reports that the 3–1 defeat was seen by 11.15-million Australians nationally.

That isn't just massive — it's the biggest audience for anything on TV since 2001.

The squad's prior match, that thrilling, nerve-shredding win via penalties against France on Saturday, August 12, already became Australia's biggest TV sports program in a decade. The England game — the first time that Australia had reached the semi-finals in the World Cup, either for the men's or women's teams — beat it. In fact, the viewership was so huge that it's the most-watched TV program, sports or otherwise, since OzTAM started its audience measurement system in 2001. Yes, that record could go back even further; OzTAM just don't have the data from before then.

While the 11.15-million number is the peak figure, the average audience on Seven and 7plus for the night was 7.13 million, including 957,000 viewers via streaming. The Matildas' Women's World Cup games are available to watch via free-to-air and also Optus Sport, which means that more folks were also viewing via the latter. And, OzTAM's data doesn't include people watching in pubs, clubs, sports venues and at other out-of-home sites, so the overall audience numbers go up again.


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A post shared by CommBank Matildas (@matildas)

Unsurprisingly, the match is also now the most-streamed event ever in Australia. To put the Matildas' repeated TV feats in context during the Women's World Cup, 2022's AFL and NRL grand finals didn't even hit the 4.17-million average figure that the France game scored — or come close. Last years' AFL numbers? 3.06-million viewers nationally.

All up so far, Seven advises that its coverage of the Women's World Cup has reached 14.05-million broadcast viewers, then another 3.4-million folks via 7plus — all while the bulk of the tournament's games, especially those that don't feature the Matildas, are only on Optus Sports.

That Sam Kerr goal against England? 11.15-million Australians seeing that honestly isn't enough.

"Australia was captivated last night as the Matildas played their hearts out and did us all proud. Although their FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 journey ended last night, the Matildas have rewritten the history books, and captured the hearts and minds of the nation with a performance that is sure to inspire generations of Australians for many years to come," said Lewis Martin, Managing Director Seven Melbourne and Head of Network Sport.

"Seven is beyond proud to have played a part in bringing Australia together around our screens, as the Matildas' performance captured the Australian spirit like nothing we have seen in decades."

The Matildas are out of contention for the ultimate Women's World Cup prize in 2023, with England and Spain now facing off, but they will play Sweden at 6pm on Saturday, August 19 to see who comes in third place. That game is another must-see, and another chance to smash viewership records.


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A post shared by CommBank Matildas (@matildas)

The Matildas' 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup games are available to watch via the Seven Network and 7plus, and also Optus Sport — with select other games also on Seven, and the entire tournament streaming via Optus Sport.

The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 runs from Thursday, July 20–Sunday, August 20 across Australia and New Zealand, with tickets available from the FIFA website.

Top image: LittleBlinky via Wikimedia Commons.

Published on August 17, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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