Three Lions, England’s iconic 1996 European Championship anthem, was streamed over 450,000 times on Spotify on Tuesday as England overcame Colombia to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2006.

According to Spotify’s charts, it was the 22nd most listened to song on the streaming platform in the United Kingdom, topping songs by the likes of Drake, Maroon 5 and Selena Gomez.

Over on iTunes, the hit song by Ian Broudie, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner sat at the top of the UK charts on Wednesday, with their World Cup ’98 version also occupying tenth spot. At £0.99 a download, the trio are set for yet another big payday, having seen their single enter the UK charts on seven other occasions since its original release.

England fans are adamant that it’s coming home this summer, but the trio will be winners regardless of whether England crash out against Sweden on Saturday or go all the way to the Moscow final.

Climbing the charts

According to the UK’s Official Charts, the average number one single has sold between 100,000 and 110,000 copies a week in recent years. In order to make it into the top 40, a single must sell between 7,500 and 8,000 copies on average.

Last Sunday, Three Lions re-entered the charts at number 42. By our calculations, each spot in the charts equates to around 2,500 sales, so we can estimate that around 2,750 copies were sold between Monday 25 June and Sunday 1 July.

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According to Spotify, users streamed the track 445,500 times in the same period. Streaming does play some part in the charts. However, this largely depends on whether the user streaming it is a free listener or a paid subscriber. For example, a Spotify Premium user playing Three Lions 100 times will count as one sale in the Official Charts. However, somebody listening via YouTube will have to play the song 600 times to generate one sale.

In short, 445,500 Spotify streams could equate to 4,455 sales or 743, depending on who is listening. Given Three Lions likely only recorded sales below the 3,000 mark, we can assume the vast majority of streams came from free users.

Even then, 2,750 sales of a song priced at around £1 (£0.99 on iTunes and Google Play, £1.29 on Amazon Music) will have only generated £2,750 at most. Between three people, as well as Epic Records who released the hit back in 1996, that money would undoubtedly spread quite thin.

However, Broudie, Baddiel and Skinner will likely see a far higher return at the end of the week, with the Three Lions fever hitting a new peak.

Heading for a third number one?

If history is any indication of where Three Lions will be by the time Sunday’s charts are announced, the song will make it into the top ten this week.

When England last made it this far back at the 2006 World Cup, the 1996 single peaked at number nine. By our calculations, a similar response this time around would equate to approximately 85,000 sales, or somewhere around £85,000.

With the number of streams on services like Spotify rocketing, it certainly seems to be heading into the UK top 40 this week. According to Spotify, UK listeners streamed Three Lions more times on Tuesday and Wednesday alone than during the entirety of last week.

England crashed out in the quarter-finals in 2006 and the single made a quick exit from the charts too. Defeat to Sweden would undoubtedly produce the same result this year. However, a run to the final (which seems achievable at this point) would likely return the 1996 hit to the top of the charts for the first time since 1998. If so, this could be worth as much as £110,000 in single sales for each week that it remains at the top.


Streaming of Three Lions peaked on Tuesday, with Spotify confirming that its users had played the song 450,000 times around the world throughout the day.

Spotify pays rights holders approximately $0.006 to $0.0084 every time that somebody streams a song for 30 seconds or more. This means that Three Lions generated somewhere between $2,700 and $3,800 on Tuesday and another $1,570 to $2,200 on Wednesday.

Spotify is the only major streaming platform that publishes regular streaming numbers, but we’ll try to provide some idea of how much the song is generating on other platforms based on those Spotify numbers. Of course, each service’s percentage of users from the UK will likely have a big impact on these numbers, but this should give you a rough idea.

Total streaming revenue likely came to somewhere around $4,300 on Tuesday. With listening figures falling by around 40% the following day, the song has probably been bringing in around $2,600 a day through streaming platforms.

On YouTube, the average payment is around $2 per thousand views. Since Sunday, Three Lions has received approximately 1.73 million views on the platform, which would equate to another $3,600.

It’s impossible to say how much of that would end up in the pockets of Broudie, Baddiel and Skinner. It’s highly likely that Epic Records, as well as a few other parties, take a fairly hefty cut. However, regardless of their share, it’s not a bad return on something that they originally created 22 years ago.