Two million viewers tuned in to Match Of The Day (MOTD) Live following Gary Lineker’s return to the BBC, the company said.
Coverage of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final, hosted by the 62-year-old presenter, attracted an average of 2.1 million viewers based on overnight figures.
Lineker returned to BBC screens for the first time since a presenter boycott of the company’s football coverage caused by the pundit being asked to step down from MOTD during an impartiality row.
The show was watched by a similar number of viewers to last week, when only 20 minutes of footage aired – with no commentary, lore or theme tune.
It comes after Lineker thanked fans for their support after being temporarily taken off the air over a tweet in which he compared the language used by the government to talk about refugees and migrants to that used by Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Gary Lineker returned to television screens on BBC One on Saturday for MOTD Live
He told fellow countrymen Alan Shearer (center) and Micah Richards (right) that it was “great to be here.”
Members of the full-time staff are required to sign a strict social media code to remain impartial, but the spat erupted into chaos after other presenters refused to continue with planned programming in solidarity.
The spat ended when the BBC ended talks with Lineker, confirming in a statement that it is now reviewing its social media policy for freelancers.
An audience peak of 2.8 million people watched MOTD Live, with analysis from experts Alan Shearer and Micah Richards.
Manchester City beat Burnley 6–0 as the program aired on BBC One from 5:25pm to 7:55pm.
The coverage was broadcast at the same time as the Six Nations Championship on ITV1 from 4.30pm to 7.15pm.
According to ITV, an average of 4.3 million people watched Ireland beat England to clinch the Grand Slam victory with a 29-16 victory.
The viewing figures also peaked at 5.3 million viewers, according to nightly figures.
Later in the evening, the 10.30pm football highlights MOTD program hosted by Mark Chapman on BBC One attracted an average of two million viewers over its 75 minutes on air, according to the BBC, peaking at 2.5 million.
Lineker posted a selfie on Twitter for his fans to celebrate his return to the program
The BBC show had an average audience of 2.6 million last Saturday when it aired for just 20 minutes and there were no presenters or even the famous theme song – instead only short highlights clips from the day’s matches were broadcast .
A total of 2.1 million viewers tuned in on Saturday, March 4 – before Lineker was asked to resign over a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new government asylum seeker policy to 1930s Germany – according to figures from one day to the next.
On Sunday, BBC Sport announced that Lineker will not be covering the FA Cup quarter-final between Brighton & Hove Albion and Grimsby Town after the former England striker’s voice “deteriorated overnight”.
Instead, former England player and presenter Alex Scott will present MOTD Live on BBC One from 1.50pm.
In a statement, the company said: ‘Due to illness we have a lineup change for today’s live FA Cup coverage of Brighton v Grimsby on BBC One.
As viewers will have noticed yesterday, Gary Lineker struggled with his voice and unfortunately it has deteriorated overnight.
“Alex Scott will host instead.”
Following the announcement, Lineker wrote on Twitter, “I’ve been silenced…literally, by a nasty cold, so, annoyingly, won’t be working this afternoon at @OfficialBHAFC.”
When he returned to the broadcast on Saturday, he had told fellow countrymen Alan Shearer and Micah Richards that it was “great to be here.”
He also posted a photo of himself at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, telling his Twitter followers: “Ah, what a joy to be able to stay with football.”
On Monday, Mr Davie said in a statement that the company has commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.
He also apologized for what he acknowledged had been ‘a difficult period’ after BBC Sport staff and commentators walked out in support of Lineker, with highlights being significantly shorter than usual and broadcast without presentation or commentary over the weekend.