A massive 2.897 million people across
Australia tuned in to SBS to watch the World Cup match between
Australia and Japan late on Monday night. An average 2.166 million
people watched the game in the five major metro markets (plus an
average 731,000 people watched in regional Australia) – perhaps the
largest late night audience for any event.

The Oztam ratings
figures, released at 9am this morning after a 24 hour delay due to a
technical glitch, are a boon for broadcaster SBS. The metro audience
peak was 2.57 million people at 11.40pm while the regional peak was 1.1
million viewers. TV analysts can’t remember another event attracting
that many people so late in the night (11pm kick off, 12.50am finish).
The preliminary programming, which started around 10.30pm averaged
1.267 million, which allowed SBS to beat Ten into third place on the
night with a 19.3% share (Ten had 19.2%).

It was the 11th most
watched event this year, slotting in after the Australia-South Africa
20/20 cricket game and just ahead of the first episode of Lost
this year with 2.125 million. SBS said it was their second largest
audience ever after the Australia-Uruguay match last November. But
unlike Monday night’s game all the programs in the top ten (The
Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony was first with 3.561 million) were
in prime time.

And this match had a higher share: an average
over 68% of all viewers in the five metro markets, which is an
extraordinarily high figure. In Sydney, the share was a huge 82.8%,
Melbourne a lowish 69.3%. In Brisbane it was 69.7% while there was less
interest in Adelaide and Perth where the audience share was a still
dominant 58.0% and 50.3% respectively.

But with the Australia v
Brazil match scheduled for 2am local time and Australia v Croatia
starting at 5am, Monday’s figures are likely to be as good as it gets –
unless Australia can somehow make it through to the knock-out phase.