How did Gary Lineker and other pundit's MOTD departure affect viewing figures?

How did Gary Lineker and other pundit's MOTD departure affect viewing figures?
BBC boss says Gary Lineker fallout is 'real blow' to programming

The number of Match of the Dayviewers soared last night, after Gary Lineker's suspension.

Over 2.58 million people tuned in to watch the programme that had a "focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry". This figure is up 500,000 from last week where 2.09m people watched the football highlights show.

Lineker has been suspended by the BBC over impartiality row after he criticised the government's controversial asylum policy on Twitter, comparing the government's language on the matter to 1930's Germany.

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News of the pundit and former footballer's suspension led Lineker's MOTD colleagues such as Ian Wright and Alan Shearer to boycott the programme in support.

Premier League informed clubs participating in fixtures yesterday (Saturday, March 11) that they will not be asked to conduct interviews for MOTD either.

As a result, last night's MOTD lasted just 20 minutes when it aired on BBC 1 at 10.20pm last night.

Gary Lineker leaves his home with his dog on March 12, 2023 in London, England as last night's MOTD aired as a highlights package only with no punditry and many other BBC sports radio and TV shows were cancelled.Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Viewers took to Twitter to share their thoughts on last night's coverage - and many weren't a fan, calling on the BBC to allow Lineker to return to host the show.

"@BBCSport How bad is this match of the day without any commentary @GaryLineker we want you back," one person said.

Another added: "No commentators on Match of the Day, not even the intro. What. Shambles."

"This has got to be the most bizarre episode of Match of the Day I've ever watched. No iconic intro, no commentary, no interviews and no analysis," a third person wrote. "...Just shows what an absolute mess the BBC have got into. #MOTD"

Though some said they liked the programme without the commentary.

One person wrote: "I watched Match Of The Day last night. I found it most refreshing and entertaining without the commentary, and the boring pundits. Long. may it continue."

"I loved match of the day without commentary and pundits, I wish you could always get this option," another person said.

Someone else added: "Is it bad I quite enjoyed that Match of the Day?"

Meanwhile, other BBC presenters have supported Lineker by pulling out of football shows on Saturday (March 11) - such as Football Focus host Alex Scott,Final Score presenter Jason Mohammad.

Tonight, the BBC is set to broadcast Match of the Day 2 which is reported to be only 14 minutes long as host Mark Chapman casted doubt on his appearance after pulled out of his Radio 5 Live duties on Saturday to support Lineker.

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