USA v England World Cup Game Draws Big Ratings On ABC: Updated

The 2010 World Cup clash between USA and England drew the fifth-best rating ever for a World Cup game. In addition to ranking behind the 1994 Romania-U.S. game (9.2), it trails only the 1994 Brazil-Italy final (12.8), the 1994 Brazil-U.S. game (10.4). The 2006 Italy-France final received an 8.6 rating.

UPDATED: To put these numbers in perspective, Saturday’s match drew more viewers than every game of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final — including Game 6, which hit a 36-year high of 8.3 million viewers. However, the match trails the first four games of the NBA Finals (14.1 mil, 15.7 mil, 16.0 mil and 16.4 mil). Keep in mind that the match also aired on Univision. Viewership for the Univision telecast was not immediately available. If the Univision telecast drew at least 3.5 million viewers, then USA/England would also top Games 1-4 of the NBA Finals.

UPDATED: According to ESPN, the two-hour match window averaged a 7.3 household rating (8.4 million households) and 12.9 million viewers. England against United States was the most-watched FIFA World Cup first-round match among households and viewers, and the most-viewed United States Men’s National Team game since 1994. The two-hour match window (2:30-4:30 p.m. ET) averaged a 7.3 household rating, 8,391,000 households, and 12,956,000 viewers, based on fast nationals.

Through five matches, ESPN and ABC are averaging 3,427,000 households and 4,937,000 viewers — up 95% and 108%, respectively, versus the first five games of the 2006 World Cup (1,754,000 households and 2,379,000 viewers in ’06). ESPN’s most-watched game so far is Saturday’s Argentina-Nigeria matchup – a 2.8 household coverage rating, 2,820,000 households, and 3,725,000 viewers.

Since Thursday, fans have consumed more than one million hours of World Cup content on, ESPN’s signature broadband network, which is available in 50 million homes. viewers are also averaging 51 minutes per match on, generating 61.2 million minutes of viewing.

Note: The U.S.-England match ranks as the highest-rated World Cup game on the ESPN networks for 19 of the 56 metered markets, including: Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Greenville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Norfolk, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Tulsa.

ESPN ratings numbers thus far:

Fri., June 11:
South Africa-Mexico (ESPN, 10 a.m.) — 2.2 household coverage rating, 2.151 million HHs, 2.856 million viewers
Uruguay-France (ESPN, 2:30 p.m.) — 2.1 rating, 2.056 HHs, 2.950 viewers

Sat., June 12:
South Korea-Greece (ESPN, 7:30 a.m.) — 1.6 rating, 1.590 HHs, 1.997 viewers
Argentina-Nigeria (ESPN, 9:21 a.m.) — 2.8 rating, 2.820 HHs, 3.725 viewers
U.S.-England (ABC, 2:30 p.m.) — 7.3 (U.S.) rating, 8.391 HHs, 12.956 viewers

ESPN’s most-watched game over the weekend was Argentina vs. Nigeria — a 2.8 household coverage rating (2.8 million households) and 3.7 million viewers.

Univision ratings numbers thus far:

Friday’s Mexico/South Africa World Cup opener drew 5.4 million viewers on Univision. The match was the most-viewed Opening Day World Cup telecast ever on Univision.

Univision’s telecast of the South Africa v Mexico match was the most-viewed program of the day in three top 10 TV markets — Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston. Later in the day, Uruguay v France drew 2.5 million viewers on Univision.

Overall, Univision averaged 4.0 million viewers for the first day of the World Cup, “nearly 2.0 million more” than the first day of the 2006 World Cup.

Meanwhile, if the United States can advance out of Group C, the likelihood of a match against Germany could generate an ever larger TV rating.

33 thoughts on “USA v England World Cup Game Draws Big Ratings On ABC: Updated”

  1. @McBride I would say not really…That was a final. It swept the nation, although I was not one of the ones watching. If the men’s team reached a World Cup final, it would destroy that women’s final rating.

  2. It would be close. The 1999 Women’s World Cup final got a 13.3 overnight which is the highest rating for a soccer game in the US. That’s just the overnight, about 40 million is the estimate for people who watched at least some of the game.

    An article said it was also competing head to head with Yankees-Mets game, so that’s pretty impressive. If the USA men ever made the final it might get a little higher. The US men need a star like Mia Hamm though. Maybe Landon Donovan or Dempsey?

  3. In fairness, the 1999 Woman’s World Cup wasn’t on Univision and the Univision number for yesterday’s game was probably quite high. I think the combined number of ABC/Deportes/Univision was probably higher than the 1999 WWC final. Additionally, was not around then and the platform crashed for many because they had never received such high volume.

    I await numbers from Univision and Deportes before determining the 99 WWC Final was higher.

  4. Excellent point Kartik. Gaffer, you should add Univision and Espn Deportes’ ratings to that number. It’d be interesting to see the P2+ (total number of viewers) and the 18-49 demo.

  5. Gaffer,

    These numbers are lower than the reality of how many people watched the match, right? How do they factor in the immense amount of people that watched the match from bars and pubs, which I would presume the vast majority of people did. At least here in New York.

    Unlike the Super Bowl, most people watch World Cup matches in public venues, whereas the SB is watched at home in private party atmospheres.

    1. Definitely agree with this. They definitely don’t take into account the thousands of people in each city that watched this game at a pub. At Fado in Philadelphia there were roughlyy 3,000 people watching the game at their block party and inside the pub and all the other surrounding pubs. For at least one day center city Philadelphia was a football (soccer) town.

  6. Well MLS needs to build off of this if this keeps up. If i was in MLS marketing i would basically remind people that most of the US players either are in MLS or started out in MLS. Get a song like The MUSE’s Uprising and at the end put watch the future US stars on MLS.

    1. Dan, MLS has been completely invisible in the World Cup coverage. Sure, many of the players on the US team started out in the US, but very few of them play in the league right now.

      The Premier League had much more of a gain from this past Saturday’s match. All two goals involved Premier League stars.

      The Gaffer

      1. Here in Columbus, the Columbus Crew have been airing regular commercials during the World Cup coverage on ESPN/ABC. They had commercials air a few different times during the USA/England game on Saturday.

      2. I see what you mean, but what i mean is like who in MLS is the next Tim Howard, Clint Dempesy, Jozy Altidore, and Landon Donavan. Let the American viewers know that before they were EPL players that they were stars in MLS, and then say come watch MLS the home of the future stars.

    2. Dan,

      Wow. I thought the same thing. Instead of having U2 sing AGAIN for this World Cup they should have used Muse’s Uprising as the World Cup theme song. Okay maybe they wouldn’t play all of the song but they could play the part “They will not control us…We will be victorious!” It would have been perfect! And at the end of the day when they do a review of the World Cup matches they should play that song and show the highlights of the games. I was thinking that yesterday. I wish I could work for ABC and tell them which songs to use. U2 already had their songs played for WC 2006 they should have used a new band. And the best one would have been Muse.

      By the way, those ratings that they do…I think the game averaged much more than 10 million. Where I went to see the game you couldn’t even find a seat two hours before it started…let alone stand! It was so packed. And the people were really really into it throughout the entire World Cup telecast. It was awesome. I really liked that place in Costa Mesa. It was a very cool pub called The Harp Inn. I’m going back again.

      Go USA!!!

  7. Yeah, the pub I was at with family in Cary, NC was absolutely packed for the game. I was also DVR’ing the game at home, but I’m not a Nielsen person, so I don’t know if that would count. Any ratings # is going to account for the actual # of people that watched the game. And they’re not going to account for the # of places that actually aired the event that was not an individual home, if I understand the ratings correctly.

  8. Per LA Times, the game was watched by 3.8 million people on Univision. That added to the 13 million on ESPN comes to about 17 million. Not too shabby:-) In fact, the ratings are excellent!!!

  9. Something you have to take into account with these numbers are times and the fact that the 1994 games were played in the US so it was easy for many people to watch games instead of having to watch games at 9am.

    The NBA finals and NHL finals were in primetime spots.

    The world cup games on the east coast start at 9 and ends around 430. (Which is hardly prime time…) Now take into account the west coast, is 4 hours behind the east coast and also a very large soccer market, these numbers are very solid. If I lived in California it would be hard for me to get up and start watching games at 5am.

    I’m no expert but I’d say you’d get a better idea of how many people were watching these games if you counted the west coast ratings for match replays.

    1. Patrick, even when the 1994 World Cup was played in the United States, many of the kick-off times for the second round games (and games played further in the tournament) were scheduled to be convenient for the European TV audience rather than the local fans in the States.

      Instead of evening games, many of them were played at Noon ET or 12:30pm ET — in the middle of the summer in the States.

      If those games had been played during primetime, the TV ratings would have been higher in ’94 in the States.

      The Gaffer

      1. Ahhh, good call sir. I was assuming they would of naturally been later for us here in the states.(I was too young to really remember the times, just remember events) Thanks for correcting my assumption though. I guess the saying about assumptions is right in my case 😀

        I still believe the NBA finals have an unfair advantage comparing it to the World Cup ratings though. The West coast is a huge market and is reaching full potential for the NBA finals; Where its only getting a fraction of its possible world cup viewers counted towards the ratings.

        I guess part of my first post may have been a knee jerk reaction because its easy for people(or anti-soccer critics) to look at ratings and go “look america dosn’t care about soccer”. But they forget to realize when looking at those ratings the Superbowl, NBA, NHL, and MLB playoffs are all aired in prime time spots and people often look past the above when comparing to World Cup or european club matches. I guess its a defense mechanism when you grow up loving this sport in America 😉

        Keep the articles coming Gaff!

        1. Patrick, don’t get me wrong, there were some matches played in the evening. But many of them, including the one I went to (Holland v Ireland in the round of 16) were played at Noon ET on an unbearably hot day in Orlando, Florida. Eughhh!

          Regarding primetime for American sports versus soccer, which is usually shown during off hours, the same analogy goes to the Premier League versus MLS. The EPL is played during ungodly hours (for west coasters) on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but the ratings are still bigger than the majority of MLS games shown on Thursday and Saturday nights — as you already know.

          The Gaffer

    1. It’s hardly an apples to apples comparison, though, is it? Now if the USA makes it to the World Cup Final and plays Brazil, then let’s see what the TV rating is!

      The Gaffer

  10. england are beter than everbody in the world that are invented
    shut up usa shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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