July 10, 2014
Fans tuning into World Cup in record numbers
By Charles Cuttone
Any notion that American fans would completely lose interest in the World Cup once the United States was eliminated have been proven false, with ESPN continuing to set record breaking audience numbers through the semi-finals.
ESPNís telecast of the United Statesí 2-1 loss to Belgium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday, July 1, averaged 16,491,000 viewers and a 9.8 US HH rating, making it the second most-viewed menís soccer match in the United States ever (behind the 18,220,000 viewers and 9.6 US HH rating ESPN earned for USA vs. Portugal on June 22). It was the third most viewed soccer match ever, behind the 1999 Women's World Cup final between the USA and China on ABC (17,975,000 viewers).
At its highest point, ESPNís telecast averaged 19,543,000 viewers and an 11.5 US HH rating from 5:30 to 6 p.m. while WatchESPN peaked at 1,500,000 concurrent users.
ESPNís presentation of the July 4th Brazil vs. Colombia match, a 2-1 Brazil victory at Estadio Catelao in Fortaleza, was seen by an average audience of 6,349,000 viewers based on a 3.6 fast national rating, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match across all networks in the United States. The viewership surpassed the previous high for a World Cup quarterfinal: 5,714,000 viewers for ABCís Argentina vs. Germany broadcast on July 3, 2010 in South Africa.
Saturday's Netherlands vs. Costa Rica match, a 0-0 tie in which Netherlands advanced after extra time in a shootout at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, was seen by an average audience of 5,791,000 viewers making it the second most-watched FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.
ESPNís telecast of Wednesdayís Netherlands vs. Argentina FIFA World Cup semifinal match Ė a 0-0 tie in which Argentina advanced to the Final on penalty kicks at Arena de Sao Paulo Ė ranks as the highest-rated and most-viewed World Cup semifinal match ever on any U.S. network, according to Nielsen. The match averaged a 4.3 U.S. household rating and 6,823,000 viewers.
Netherlands vs. Argentina topped Tuesday's semifinal Ė Brazil vs. Germany which was seen by an average audience of 6,643,000 viewers based on a 4.2 rating. This World Cup in Brazil has produced the top-two semifinal matches in the quadrennial tournament, and the 2014 semifinals average of a 4.2 U.S. household rating is up 56 percent from a 2.7 rating in 2010, and up 45 percent from a 2.9 rating in 2006.
Additionally, the Netherlands vs. Argentina semifinal match ranks as the highest-rated and most-viewed World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2 not involving the U.S. Menís National Team.
Through 62 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC are averaging 4,289,000 viewers and a 2.7 US household rating per match. The 2014 audience marks increases of 43 percent (vs. 2,989,000 in 2010) and 108 percent (2,060,000 in 2006) in viewers, and 42 percent (vs. 1.9 in 2010) and 93 percent (1.4 in 2006) in ratings. (Note: Ratings and viewership numbers are based on the specific match windows, not including pre-match studio coverage.)
To date, the highest-rated markets on the ESPN networks are: Washington, DC (4.7), New York (4.4), San Francisco (4.2), Los Angeles (3.8), San Diego (3.7), Hartford/New Haven (3.7), Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (3.6), Orlando (3.6), Richmond/Petersburg (3.4) and West Palm Beach (3.4).