ITV is expected to enjoy the most lucrative night in its history when it screens England’s Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday night.
The commercial broadcaster is charging between £500,000 and £750,000 for advertising slots during the live broadcast of the match.
The channel has sole rights to the semi-final, as it did in 2018 when a peak audience of 27.5 million watched England lose to Croatia in the World Cup semi-final, the biggest in its history.
ITV is predicting a similar-sized audience for the Three Lions’ fixture and, with a post-pandemic economic surge, the broadcaster privately expects the evening to break all advertising revenue records.
The channel has shrunk its news coverage by half an hour to allow the football coverage to begin earlier at 6.30pm, enabling it to cram in an extra advertising break before the match starts at 8pm.
Although England fans will not wish the game to go to extra time and penalties – a situation supporters will find far too stressful – such a drawn-out match would further swell ITV’s coffers.
Pick your England team to face Denmark
The Telegraph understands the channel is charging up to three-quarters of a million pounds for a 30-second ad break slot.
An ITV source said: “This is our big night. The final is shared with the BBC, so this is the game where we have exclusive rights. Potentially this is the most lucrative might in ITV’s history.”
In its commercial results published earlier in the year, the channel predicted a revenue surge as Covid restrictions ease and advertisers return to big spending, while the European football championships was also predicted to boost June revenue by about 90 per cent. England’s progress in the tournament, after beating Germany and then Ukraine to reach the semi-final, will have swelled those estimates.
Julian Aquilina, senior TV analyst at Enders Analysis, a media research company, said: “With the increasing fragmentation of viewing across different platforms, ITV remains one of the few places advertisers can go to reach mass audiences simultaneously, which is why it commands such a premium for its airtime during a big event such as an England football game.”
He said he expected the audience to exceed the quarter-final against Ukraine, screened on BBC One, and to at least rival the viewing figures for the 2018 World Cup semi-final.