England v USA Viewing Audience Beats First 4 Games Of NBA Finals

 England v USA Viewing Audience Beats First 4 Games Of NBA Finals

Sunday we reported that ESPN’s viewing numbers for the first five games of the tournament were double the number from four years ago. And now there’s more good news as the TV ratings and updated audience numbers for Saturday and Sunday’s matches add more ammunition to the argument that the 2010 World Cup is taking America by storm — especially when you consider that the England v USA game drew more viewers than each night of the first four games of the NBA Finals.

Consider the following new World Cup data points:

  • The TV audience for England against United States, on both ABC and Univision combined, was an astounding 17.0 million, according to Sports Media Watch.
  • The 17.0 million USA v England viewing number is bigger than the first four games of the NBA Finals (14.1 mil, 15.7 mil, 16.0 mil and 16.4 mil). That’s quite an accomplishment considering that the first four games of the NBA Finals have hit a six-year high in overnight ratings, with the exception of Game 1 — which tied a six-year high. Game 5 of the NBA finals netted a viewing audience of 18.2 million.
  • Other than the USA v England match, the highest viewing audience for a 2010 World Cup game was for the South Africa v Mexico where 5.3 million Americans watched the game on Univision. That’s the largest viewing number ever for a soccer game on Univision!
  • The most-watched game from Sunday was ABC’s Germany-Australia matchup – a 2.8 household rating, 3,270,000 households, and 4,657,000 viewers. Serbia-Ghana delivered a 2.3 household coverage rating, 2,248,000 households, and 3,002,000 viewers earlier in the day on ESPN, both based on fast nationals.
  • Nearly 1.3 million viewers have viewed live and replay World Cup matches on ESPN3.com over the first three days of the tournament. That generated 73.6 million minutes of viewing (almost an hour per viewer). The number of minutes viewed in the opening three days is almost as many as ESPN3.com had for the entire month of June 2009.

The above World Cup viewing figures are even more impressive when you consider the time of the day the games are shown. While the NBA Finals are shown during primetime, the England against United States match was shown during a Saturday mid-afternoon time slot. Plus, the England against USA match on ABC alone drew more viewers than every game of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. And that was after the June 9 broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC was the most-watched NHL game in the United States in 36 years with 8.28 million viewers.

As readers of EPL Talk have noted, the impressive TV ratings for the World Cup do not factor in the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans who watched the England against United States match in sports bars, pubs, baseball stadiums and other public venues across the States on Saturday.

What are your impressions of the viewing numbers thus far? Share your questions and observations in the comments section below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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30 Responses to England v USA Viewing Audience Beats First 4 Games Of NBA Finals

  1. maw4bc says:

    Pretty awesome numbers. I think the numbers could be even higher, everyone I know either went to a pub or was having a huge watch party. Reminded me of the superbowl!

  2. The game in England got 20 million which is not bad for the first game of the world cup and the fact that we have only 50-60 million living here.

    I suppose that would be like you getting about 125 million.

  3. Jason says:

    This number is actually much higher when you consider the public viewing parties and bars across the country that drew. San Francisco had over 15,000 for a public viewing party at AT&T Park. DC has over 5000 at Dupont Circle

  4. Yep, I can’t say for sure whether that number is spot on, I got the figure from another forum but it sounds about right. We usually get about 23-24 million for a quarter final and when we got to the final in 66, the number was 33 million, which is still a record in this country for any tv show/event. Even Princess Diana’s funural didn’t get those figures but is 2nd on the list with about 30 million.

  5. Cricketlover says:

    I’m glad the ratings for ESPN has been high. This should prove to be good for soccer fans in this country because we can now expect ESPN and other sports channels to recognize the potential of soccer as a growing sport in this country and try to bring more soccer to US TV screens.

    If the 2006 World Cup final drew 715 million viewers, I think it’s safe to say that this year we could well see over 1 billion viewers. More people have access to satellite dishes and broadband which will increase viewership.

  6. Salvatore says:

    715 is the amount of TV sets I think….overall it was over a billion who watched…Fifa has a hard time judging groups. I got that from the book Soccernomics but I could be wrong. The Super Bowl had 98 million and 91 million were from the United States. Not so global

  7. Pete says:

    Am I crazy or is the HD clearer on Univision than it is on ESPN? I’m not sure if I’m imagining this, but it just looks sharper.

    • KopOut8 says:

      The univision picture is often much much clearer than espn3. That is probably due to how many fewer people want to watch in spanish. Espn3 seems to get overloaded a lot and then automatically reduces the video quality to compensate.

    • Pablo says:

      You are right. Univision is telecasting the games in HD 1080p, and ESPN is doing it in 920p. That’s the reason of the crisper quality in the image.

  8. Dustin Johnson says:

    To someone who works as a media planner/buyer, this number is shocking and it is going to raise a lot of eyebrows.

  9. Buffalo says:

    I wonder what the numbers will be for the next game. They will probably be significantly lower. Since it doesn’t have alot of hype.

  10. Bos says:

    Who is going to benefit from these numbers? Will ESPN take these numbers and run with it and try to promote more EPL games, with the line of thinking, it’s a better product. Or will MLS see a spike, but once a couple weeks pass, the numbers go back down? Personally, I’d like to see ESPN push EPL, we all know its a better product and the numbers are there, don’t push MLS just because it’s an american product.

    • John Boschini says:

      I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. A fringe benefit of the time differences is that EPL matches and MLS matches rarely overlap. But I do agree that American audiences are more likely to gravitate towards the EPL because it’s a higher-quality product.

  11. Yeah but, once Kobi and the LA Lakers pounce on Boston tonight and we go to Game 7, I suspect the numbers will be in favor of the NBA Finals +10

  12. franko says:

    It is too bad the group watching can’t be taken into account, because in Portland a lot of people watched the Eng-US match in pubs (like me) and they were packed, with people still watching from the street. Great ratings.

  13. Ed Feng says:

    17 million is an amazing number, especially considering that Time reported that 16.9 million watched the last World Cup final in the US. Can anyone confirm this number?

  14. bobby says:

    The numbers are nice but the play on the pitch is atrocious. I doubt this World Cup is creating any new die-hard football fans in America. Hell, I’ve fallen back asleep during half the games.

  15. bidets says:

    Don’t forget the public screenings, such as bars which have 10′s to 100′s of viewing from one tv stream.

  16. NBA MAN says:

    How could the world cup compare to the NBA finals. Two continents are watching the world cup. only people in North America are watching the Finals, and most of the views are in Boston and LA.

    • Maša says:

      Actually all the continents are watching the world cup, not just two ;) Though I think that the NBA finals are also watched globally but not in such huge numbers as world cup of course …

    • The Gaffer says:

      NBA Man, the TV ratings listed were just for the United States, so it’s an apple-to-apple comparison between viewing audience numbers for England v USA compared to NBA Finals.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  17. Syrymflash says:

    Ahah those 5.3 million watchers were Mexicans prolly :)

  18. heheheh says:

    no NBA is only watched in USA not in the world its hardly known around the world……and some one said england got 20 million views for england vs usa……guess what canada got for the olympic USA vs canada gold metal game 27 million viewers out of 33 million people lets see u beat that….thats like 90% of the country glowed to the TV and the set a new record….

    USA got 37 million viewers….

    and all u fool thinking that soccer is getting bigger in the US is a complete idiot stop dreaming we dont watch stupid sports with 1 gold scored

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