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SBD Global/July 9, 2013/Media

Wimbledon Men's Final Draws 17 Million Viewers To BBC1; Most-Watched '13 Show

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Andy Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years.
Andy Murray's historic Wimbledon tennis triumph "was watched by a peak audience of more than 17 million viewers" in the U.K., the biggest since modern ratings records began more than 20 years ago, according to John Plunkett of the London GUARDIAN. The Scot's straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic -- making him the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in '36 -- averaged 12.1 million viewers across the entirety of BBC1's coverage between 1:45pm and 6pm London time on Sunday, a 72.8% share of the audience. BBC1's coverage had a five-minute peak of 17.29 million viewers beginning at 5:30pm, as Murray "celebrated his win." Murray won championship point at about 5:24pm after a final service game that stretched out for 12 "nerve-racking minutes." Over 30 minutes from 5:15pm, BBC1 averaged a 16.7 million audience "for the climax of the match" and the ensuing celebrations (GUARDIAN, 7/8).

IN GOOD COMPANY: In London, Daisy Wyatt reported Murray’s win "is narrowly the second most watched Wimbledon match of all time," after 17.3 million people watched Bjorn Borg’s five-set victory over John McEnroe in '80. However, the Murray final has become the most-watched TV moment of '13 so far, beating the "Britain’s Got Talent" final, "which saw a peak audience of 13.1 million last month" (INDEPENDENT, 7/8). In L.A., Georg Szalai reported the figures "came in below the peak ratings of around 20 million viewers for some big events" of the 2012 London Olympics (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/8). Also in L.A., Diana Lodderhose reported this year’s peak ratings and average ratings exceeded '12’s Wimbledon final stats of 16.9 million peak and an 11.4 million average, which at the time "became the biggest U.K. audience for any Wimbledon final in more than 20 years" (VARIETY, 7/8).

SETTING THE SCENE: In London, Jan Moir wrote "as a golden Sunday afternoon unfolded across the whole of Britain and millions sat enrapt in front of their television sets, the question was this: dare we dream, too?" Could "we stand the babbling inanities of the BBC commentary team who yakked on about the state of the tennis balls (‘He likes a nice skinny one, without much fluff’) and where Boris Becker lived?" It is "all right for those with Centre Court seats or the fans soaking up the atmo at Murray Mount or elsewhere." For watching at home "is a kind of delirious agony -- pleasure at the tennis leavened by dismay at much of the drivel." The tennis "was not the only spectacle." There was "no sign of Pippa or Kate in the Royal Box this year but Posh Spice was there, wearing what looked like a nightie, with her mini-me Tana Ramsay, wife of Gordon" (DAILY MAIL, 7/7).

CRITIQUING THE BBC: In London, Tom Sutcliffe reported the audience "understands that BBC Sport gets a little over-excited at such moments and is prepared to forgive quite a lot.'' We are "not as easy-going when the action starts, though." And when it did, to borrow one of Andy Castle’s phrases, “suddenly things went south.” What was most striking was "how none of the BBC’s commentators allowed their inside knowledge of the game and unique personal knowledge of what it’s like to play a men’s final on centre court to get in the way of pure reflexive yelping" (INDEPENDENT, 7/7). In London, John Crace wrote on the GUARDIAN's TV&Radio blog Murray has "upped his game in the past 18 months." The BBC "could do with following suit." While Murray "played a blinder, the broadcaster would have been going home in the first week if it had any competition." It was not the technical side "that was at fault: the quality of the pictures, coverage of games on the outside courts and the behind-the-scenes access were better than ever. It was the presentation." The commentators "were generally OK -- McEnroe is better than OK -- but the presentation felt tired and outdated." Sue Barker "can't help being everyone's favourite head girl but her jolly hockeysticks enthusiasm doesn't really do the job." The BBC's "main wrong note, though, came with the jingoism and sentiment that provided the backdrop to almost every day's play." There is "nothing wrong with a bit of national pride but from the very beginning of this tournament the BBC took this to almost hysterical levels" (GUARDIAN, 7/8). Also in London, Jonathan Liew wrote "contrary to what you may have read, heard or concluded, the BBC actually had a pretty good Wimbledon." The BBC’s pundits, though, "have been decent, with the pithy and knowledgeable Lindsay Davenport deserving of special mention." Production values "have been exemplary, in particular the spine‑tingling title sequence, which takes the greatest TV theme tune of all time and sets it against a shape-shifting visual apocalypse in which Centre Court rises, tier by trembling tier, from the bowels of the earth." Then there was "the wonderful Andy Murray documentary a fortnight ago, which verged on Simon Fuller-authored hagiography at times, but was none the less entertaining for that" (TELEGRAPH, 7/8).

INVERDALE FALLOUT: In a separate article, the INDEPENDENT's Wyatt reported the BBC has received 674 complaints over presenter John Inverdale’s comments "about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli’s appearance" (INDEPENDENT, 7/8).
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