More people than ever before tuned into Saracens v Harlequins

The battle between England fly-halves Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith as Saracens beat Harlequins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium helped Premiership Rugby smash their TV record for most viewers.

Farrell got the edge over his international colleague as Mark McCall’s men prevailed 36-24 in the Showdown 3 and courtesy of being shown live on ITV and BT Sport, the combined peak audience for Saturday’s fixture came in at 1.516 million people.

Related: England Rugby World Cup squad

The game is now the English league’s most-watched of all time, narrowly pipping last year’s dramatic final between Saracens and Leicester Tigers – which was settled by Freddie Burns’s last-gasp drop goal – by 200,000 viewers.

The figures reveal the power of being on terrestrial TV as some 1.33 million switched on ITV compared to 186,000 on pay subscription service BT Sport.

Read more: Rugby to be shown on new TV channel after BT Sport rebrand

Premiership Rugby reported a significant 7.1% share of all UK TV viewers during the match on top of the 55,000 people that were at the home of football side Tottenham Hotspur to see the game live.

Simon Massie-Taylor, Premiership Rugby CEO, said: “We are delighted to see the latest record-breaking TV figures from Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

“And we are equally pleased to see stadium attendances remaining on a strong upwards trajectory in yet another unmissable season that is set to go right to the wire.

“A huge thanks must go to all Premiership Rugby fans for their dedication and support – as well as our clubs, broadcast partners and sponsors who help us deliver the outstanding entertainment enjoyed by millions of people.

Read more: Rugby Fixtures

“It is incredible to see eight teams still very much in the mix for the four semi-final spots ahead of our showpiece Gallagher Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham on May 27.

“Supporters can also continue to keep across the non-stop entertainment live on BT Sport, ITV or Premiership Rugby TV – with tickets for the final on sale now.”

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.