ITV nets record 14.6m viewers as Man U beat Chelsea

LONDON - Manchester United's dramatic Champions League win over Chelsea in a sudden death penalty shoot-out scored a peak audience of 14.6m viewers, giving ITV1 the most watched television moment of the year.

The record audience tuned in as Chelsea's French striker Nicolas Anelka missed the club's seventh penalty, handing the coveted Champions League trophy to United, who chalked up their third victory in the tournament.

The programme was watched by an average audience of 9.9m viewers and a 43.1% share across the entire coverage from 7pm-11.15pm -- including pre-match build up and the post-match celebrations.

The figures compare well to last year's Champions League final on ITV1, contested between Italian club AC Milan and English side Liverpool, which drew an average audience of 7.7m viewers and a 35.4% share of the audience.

Figures out today showed that ITV1 pulled in an average audience of 6.2m viewers for this season's Champions League coverage, making it the most watched season since 2002-2003, when AC Milan were crowned champions.

The match netted ITV £9m in advertising revenues during normal play. ITV sold 30-second spots during the final for £200,000.

The commercial broadcaster, which enjoyed one of the most lucrative ad breaks during its history, made an estimated £1m from the match being forced into extra-time after the final ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Advertisers included Ford, Cadbury Trebor Bassett, Samsung, Blackberry, L'Oreal, Audi, Nike, Bullmers, Apple, First Direct, BT and XBox.

Mark Sharman, ITV's director of news and sport, said: "I'm delighted that almost 15m watched ITV1's coverage of the final -- crowning a superb season of Champions League football in which there has been an unprecedented level of British success.

"The viewing figures once again reaffirm the power of top level football events on free-to-air television in uniting mass audiences."

Elsewhere, last night's ninth episode of BBC One's 'The Apprentice' was down by almost 2m viewers on last week, as the live football took share from the business reality TV series. Only 5m viewers tuned in, a 19.4% share, between the hours of 9pm-10pm.

Last night's episode featured ad agency Oglivy Advertising, with appearance's from Gary Leih, Ogilvy chairman; Ogilvy executive creative director and Brand Republic blogger Rory Sutherland; and Vicky Bullen, chief executive of brand consultancy Coley Porter Bell.

The episode, in which the contestants were challenged to design their own brand of tissues and then create a TV and press campaign to back the launch, ended with Raef Bjayou being fired by Sir Alan Sugar.

Despite strong competition from BBC One and ITV1, a Channel 4 documentary examining the shocking story of Elisabeth Fritzl, 'Secrets of the Austrian Cellar', brought 1.9m viewers and a 7.5% share of the audience between the hours of 9pm-10pm. Including Channel 4+1, it had 2.1m viewers and an 8.1% share.

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