World Cup ratings surprise ABC & ESPN


ABC and ESPN’s ratings for World Cup have been excellent despite the cynics and obvious contempt of the soccer hating sports media in this country. The Czech Republic-USA match was the highest rated program thus far in 2006 on ESPN 2, and the USA-Italy game garnered a 5.8 overnight rating for the ABC telecast. ABC also had a 3.1 rating for its telecast of Trinidad &Tobago versus Sweden and is averaging a 2.8 overall rating on weekend games, including games that start early in the morning US time. This is compared with an average rating of 1.5 for Prime Time NHL Stanley Cup finals telecasts on NBC. OLN’s cable telecasts of the NHL playoffs averaged a 0.4 cable rating as compared to ESPN2’s average daily rating of 1.8 for World Cup telecasts. Keep in mind the Soccer broadcasts are during the day when viewership is typically much lower than Prime Time when the NHL games are being broadcast. Yet the sports media in this country by and large assumes more people are interested in the NHL than the “foreign” game of Soccer. Or is it just that the media is fueled by Northeastern elites who seek to force Hockey down our throats?

Says ESPN senior vice president Artie Bulgrin, “I’m amazed at the interest.” That’s good news as we continue to build a soccer culture in this country.

13 thoughts on “World Cup ratings surprise ABC & ESPN”

  1. It’s about time! Soccer can have a break through in this nation if we can make the 2nd round and face Brazil.

  2. This is good news. When you factor in the Univision ratings as well as the those who get the SMS, a Euro channel that shows live games in English with a German SAP option the ratings and interest are actually much higher.

  3. I’m shocked. Soccer is making progress in this nation, though I must say I still hate it.

    A 5.8 is a substantial rating for a mid afternoon network event. For example CBS averages about a 2.2 on SEC Football telecasts and about 1.9 for college basketball regular seasons broadcasts, though these go up when popular teams such as North Carolina or Kentucky play. ABC averages a 5.3 for Saturday afternoon college football although this goes up when Notre Dame, USC or Miami is involved, but they regionalize the games, usually broadcasting 3 to 4 games at a time so they have much higher production and broadcast costs.

  4. Everyone, please keep watching. We need the USA to get through to round 2 so that viewership and interest continues to grow.

  5. this is nice news. i have been watching on univision. mexico needs a win tomorrow. what does everybody think of the usa robbery the other day? italy is known for rough play and dirty and buying officials as well.

  6. Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser debated this subject tonight on PTI. Wilbon is pro-soccer, Korheiser hates it, and talked about how strange and weird soccer was.

  7. Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser debated this subject tonight on PTI. Wilbon is pro-soccer, Korheiser hates it, and talked about how strange and weird soccer was.

    Kornheiser is a well known soccer hater. Washington DC is perhaps the only major city in the US where Soccer is a mainstream sport that is not just confined to hispanics (like myself here in orlando) and europeans. In Washington, DC United and soccer in general is very popular and while Wilbon has embraced it as have most of the Washington Post sports staff, Kornheiser has waged war against anything related to soccer.

  8. Yes, I have been following the TV ratings very closely. The NBA Finals also in primetime is averaging a 9.2 rating so the USA-Italy game did quite well by any measure.

  9. I’m a good case in point. I do not watch soccer very often, but do watch the World Cup. My two sports are NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football, but World Cup doesn’t overlap with either.

    I could care less about the NHL, NBA or MLB so right now I’m enjoying the Soccer and will get back to my Noles after July 9.

  10. I’m enjoying the cross promotion for the World Cup on the entire ESPN/ABC network.

    During MLB, they flash the countdown to USA v. Ghana on the ticker! 13:00:00

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