Sam Leith

The misery of watching England beat Denmark on ITV Hub

Why can't a national broadcaster get its coverage of a historic national game right?

The misery of watching England beat Denmark on ITV Hub
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The tension in last night’s semi-final against Denmark was unbearable, wasn’t it? The early Danish goal – the thrilling equaliser – that penalty rebound! Every true Englishman had their hearts in their mouths. Even Priti Patel, I fancy, found herself reaching for a toothpick.

But to those who were watching the show over the internet, it was a hundred times more tense. It wasn’t just: will we score a goal? It was: if we score a goal will I see it happen? The only means of watching the game, for those with Apple TV or a similar blessing of the modern age, was the ITV App. And by the climax of the game it had taken to crashing every seventy seconds or so.

He’s streaking up the wing... it’s a beautiful arcing cross.... and.... BOOM we’re back to the Apple TV home screen. REFEREE!

From a brief sample of social media, I’m by no means the only person this was happening to. One friend reported that the family had given up altogether and were now 'huddling round the wireless like in olden-day times'. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if more people saw the 1966 World Cup Final on telly without a hitch than saw this one.

Is it galling that a national broadcaster that has secured the rights to a historic national game can’t be bothered to create a streaming app fit for purpose? It is. 

Does it shame us that a nation that produced Raheem Sterling, Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane also produced whichever team of halfwits runs the ITV technical department? It does.

What’s really offensive, though, is that every time you reboot that app, you get served two minutes or so of inane thumbs-aloft football-themed adverts before you’re able to return to the game.

So not only has ITV ruined the experience of hundreds of thousands of football fans up and down the country. It has, we can presume, profited handsomely from doing so.