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.