World Cup 2023 pundit wars: as BBC rivals ITV, who comes out on top?

Women’s World Cup 2023 pundit wars: BBC and ITV have plenty of high-profile names fronting their rival coverage for Sunday’s final – and even WSL managers go head-to-head! But who comes out on top?

  • The broadcasters’ battle for ratings will come to a head as England play Spain 
  • LAURA WOODS: The Lionesses are changing the way we think about football 
  • WATCH: Wiegman CAN’T recall Lauren James, Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton says 

In less than 48 hours, the Lionesses will do battle against Spain in their first-ever World Cup final, kicking off at 11am at Stadium Australia in Sydney.  

Both ITV and BBC will be presenting coverage of the event, both teetering on the edge of making history, commentators already dreaming of etching their own iconic quote into public consciousness for decades to come. 

There’s barely a whisker between the quality of the broadcasters, both of whom have taken viewers through the competition so far, with both organisations packing their studios to the rafters with top talent. 

On the BBC, Gabby Logan hosts a team including Reshmin Chowdhury, Alex Scott, Ellen White, Steph Houghton, Fara Williams, Rachel Brown-Finnis, Anita Asante, Karen Bardsley, Laura Georges, Jonas Eidevall, and Scott Booth, with Robyn Cowen and Jonathan Pearce on commentary. 

One channel over, Laura Woods helms ITV’s coverage, featuring  Laura Woods, Seema Jaswal, Michelle Owen, Eni Aluko, Karen Carney, Jill Scott, Emma Hayes, Fran Kirby, Lucy Ward, Siobhan Chamberlain, Emma Byrne, Vicky Losada, Jean Beattie, and Katie Shanahan, with commentary by Sam Matterface, Pien Meulensteen, and Tom Gayle.  

BBC’s presenter line-up (pictured) will go to war with ITV during England’s World Cup final

Both broadcasters have amassed enviable line-ups in a bid to steal the lion’s share of the viewing figures on Sunday

Sarina Wiegman is finalising her preparations for the 11am kick-off – but where will you be watching? 

But how have the broadcasters fared in the tournament so far? And how should you decide who to plump for in the viewing wars? 

Here, Mail Sport runs the rule over the pundit wars: ITV versus BBC.  


Not only have both broadcasters tempted talent with a wealth of presenting and punditry experience, they’ve assured that all bases are covered with a raft of experienced former and current players to provide inside insight into the rigours of featuring at an international tournament. 

Woods fronts ITV’s coverage in her last major role before starting as the blockbuster host of freshly-launched TNT Sports’ Champions League and boxing programming. The former talkSPORT host has been a regular presenter for the broadcaster covering events such as the 2022 Qatar World Cup, where she was joined by Jaswal. 

Gabby Logan has become one of the faces of the BBC’s sports offering over more than 20 years are the forefront of their coverage, and Scott is no different: she and Williams have become permanent fixtures presenting at major tournaments, and worked together at last year’s European Championships. 

Whilst ITV have a stacked deck in terms of the current players they’ve been able to tempt onto the small screen such as Beattie, who turns out for Arsenal, and Chelsea’s Fran Kirby – who would have made Wiegman’s starting XI were it not for a persistent injury – BBC have possibly the jewel in the crown of former Lionesses, in the form of White. 

Gabby Logan (left), Alex Scott (centre) and Reshmin Chowdhury (right) are on duty for the BBC

Laura Woods helms ITV’s coverage before starting her new hosting role at  the new TNT Sports

Former England stars such as Steph Houghton (L), Ellen White (C) and Fara Williams (R) will provide expert analysis on BBC

Euro 2022 winner – and Queen of the Jungle – Jill Scott is a pitchside feature on ITV’s coverage

The England record goalscorer (and Mail Sport columnist) played a key role in last year’s Euros triumph, and offers vivid insight into the realities of life inside Wiegman’s camp. That being said, ITV’s capture of Queen of the Jungle Scott is nothing to be sniffed at. 

Both broadcasters have heavy-hitting managers to both elevate tactical discussions – and offer sage wisdom on their own players featuring in the tournament. In the red corner, Arsenal’s Eidevall is deployed as a pundit, whereas the blue corner’s Hayes, Chelsea’s trophy-ladened manager, provides superlative co-commentary. 

But does Hayes’ five players left in the competition – to Eidevall’s two – edge it for ITV? 

BBC 8/10

ITV 9/10 


As the tournament prepares for its grand finale, there have been a number of entertaining and amusing moments that viewers have enjoyed over the past few weeks. 

The most curious of these has been the emergence of a soothsayer on BBC – Mystic Fara, whose World Cup predictions have been hitting the nail on the head at an alarming rate. First, the most capped England woman of all time correctly predicted Spain would beat Zambia 5-0 in the group stages, then England’s astonishing victory against Australia. 

At last year’s Euros, Williams also had England to win 4-0 against Sweden in the semi-finals, which they duly did. A nation hangs on tenterhooks to see if she dares forecast Sunday’s final. 

BBC also served up a hilariously on-the-nose montage ahead of England’s semi-final, likely much to the delight of those among us with somewhat divided loyalties between Lionesses and Matildas. The broadcaster scored England and Australia’s route to the match to the sound of Australia’s most popular export (Vegemite aside) Kylie Minogue, reading her 1987 hit ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ with a theatrical reverance. 

Fara Williams was pitch-perfect with her predictions for England against Australia in the semis 

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was suitably smug to have Lauren James at her disposal

As if to brag that England had won rights to the British-based popstrel, it was re-run over the Lionesses’ victory montage too. 

Whilst ITV may not have their own Magic-8 ball or equivalent dual-nationality superstar, a wry moment on commentary from Hayes no doubt prompted mirth in the know. 

As Lauren James netted yet again in England’s group stage match against China, Hayes said: ‘I hope whichever club has this player signed her to a long-term contract’. 

The club is Chelsea – the manager, Hayes. The contract? New four-year deal announced in July 2023. 

BBC: 9/10

ITV: 7/10 


Save for former Premier League goalkeeper Paddy Kenny’s bitter feud with Aluko, which the 45-year-old sought to reignite during England’s victory against Colombia when he called out the presenter and former Lioness for correcting her pronouncement of ‘man marking’ with ‘player marking’, the teams themselves are light on personal controversy. 

However, their broadcasters have found themselves in a spot of hot water over a number of gaffes that fans were quick to point out on social media. 

The BBC attracted commentors’ ire when they incorrectly showed pictures of the Lionesses beaming out on a starting XI graphic – for both Sweden and Spain. As impressive as Georgia Stanway is, she doesn’t also moonlight as Aitana Bonmati and Filippa Angeldal. 

The BBC displayed photos of England players in the line-ups for Spain and Sweden’s semi final

It was the same for the Sweden line-up – with an alternative formation offered for the side too

The broadcaster previously got themselves caught up in controversy when a microphone mishap saw commentator Jonathan Pearce transmit a mumbled conversation over the French national anthem. ‘Was I on air there?’ he asked innoncently, after accidentally damaging Franco-British relations. 

ITV may have had their hands tied when finding themselves at the centre of a social media disgrace. Incensed Good Morning Britain fans took to X (formerly Twitter) not once but twice to bemoan the channel’s scheduling, as the popular programme was bumped first by Phillipines versus Switzerland, then by Italy versus Argentina. 

Viewers cursing the rights deal wondered whether Good Morning Britain might be on strike, and called for the banishment of group stage matches to the comparative wasteland of ITV4. 

BBC: 7/10

ITV: 7/10 


Both BBC and ITV have brought together teams for their coverage stuffed with well-established pairings, and are reaping the rewards. Before England’s semi-final, Scott did seem genuinely quite put out that she was throwing to Williams pitchside, rather than discussing the tie ahead side-by-side. 

At ITV, the presenting duo of Carney and Aluko were formerly the attacking duo at Chelsea between 2016 and 2018, and it shows in their warmth and insight. The presenters also frequently cover WSL ties, adding an instant rapport to interactions with those cameo pundits. 

The presenters from both broadcasters have also toed the partisanship line successfully – geniunely excited and nervous for England’s chances at the business end of the tournament, but not at the expense of necessary analysis. 

That being said, Brown-Finnis barely-audible scream of delight in the background of Cowen’s commentary on Alessia Russo’s third for England against the Matildas was a charming reminder that you can only be a buttoned-up professional for so long under the circumstances. 

Scott and Rachel Brown-Finnis (right) are perennials on BBC Sport and successful at toeing the fine line between partisanship and objective analysis

BBC: 9/10

ITV: 8/10 


We’re taking them all in here: from Cyprus Cups to Sports Presenter of the Year – pausing only to omitted the I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here title, with apologies to ITV. 

Neither broadcaster has a haul to be sniffed at. But it’s ITV that dwarfs BBC’s comparatively modest collection of 103 trophies and awards, with a whopping 183. 

BBC: 6/10 

ITV: 10/10

Final scores: BBC – 39, ITV – 41


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