World Cup TV Ratings Break New Records On ESPN and Univision

The 2010 World Cup has exploded on US television with record ratings. During the first weekend, the audience numbers for the first five games for the 2010 World Cup on ESPN were twice as high as those from four years ago during the 2006 World Cup. And now, during the second weekend, Univision is reporting that their broadcast of Mexico against France was the largest audience for a World Cup match on its network. Not only that, but ESPN is reporting that the United States against Slovenia match was ESPN’s third most-watched soccer telecast of all time.

Thursday’s Mexico against France game on Univision drew 5.8 million viewers. When combined with ESPN’s audience number for that game, the total viewing audience was approximately 8 million. Thursday’s 5.8 million audience on Univision topped the previous Univision record of 5.4 million for the game between Mexico and South Africa that opened the 2010 World Cup.

So far, through Thursday, Univision is averaging 2.3 million viewers for the 2010 World Cup, up 13% from 2006.

Meanwhile, Friday’s United States’ 2-2 draw with Slovenia drew 5.2 million viewers. Only Germany vs Italy in 2006 (5.85 million) and United States vs Germany in 2002 (5.3 million) drew more viewers. During the 2006 World Cup, US vs Czech Republic drew 3.8 million viewers on ESPN2 and USA vs Ghana drew 2.8 million on ESPN.

Friday’s match also ranks as the most-viewed soccer telecast ever on ESPN in households (3.9 million).

San Diego led all markets with an 8.5 rating for the match, followed by Washington, D.C. (6.4), Miami (6.2), West Palm Beach (5.9) and San Francisco (5.7).

Through Friday, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC are averaging a 1.9 U.S. rating and 2.95 million viewers for coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, up 60% and 71%, respectively, from 2006 (1.2, 1.7 mil).

At this rate, don’t be surprised if June and July of 2010 is remembered, in the future, as “the summer of soccer” especially when you consider the fact that both the France against Mexico and United States versus Slovenia games were shown on weekdays. Imagine if those games had been played on a weekend!

18 thoughts on “World Cup TV Ratings Break New Records On ESPN and Univision”

  1. If the USA makes it out of the group stage, their round of 16 game would be on a weekend. If they win the group, they would play on Saturday, June 26th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time on ABC. If they get 2nd in the group, they play Sunday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. eastern time on ESPN. Both would obviously be huge ratings, with the Saturday afternoon timeslot on ABC likely bringing in higher ratings than the Sunday morning timeslot on ESPN.

  2. Great to hear this! soccer is on this rise in the US and the numbers prove it. This is the first time the world cup is getting this much coverage in the states, which is definitely one of the contributing factors to the higher ratings it’s getting (not to mention the success of the US team)

    I can’t wait till the next WC in Brazil. The games of that world cup will be aired at a much more decent time (afternoons & evenings) and coupling with the rise in popularity of the sport means that the record books will be re-written shortly.


    1. Who says they will be evening games? I imagine they will be afternoon games so the Europeans can watch live…

  3. this is a grate news for soccer in usa and this is one more reason we should hold the world cup in 2018 or 2022 go soccer go usa

  4. I’m pretty sure that the USA-Algeria match will become the most watched soccer in history. The referee controversy has become a mainstream talking point. It made the front and back pages of the New York papers.

  5. Talk about a breakthrough for a sport…I didn’t expect the World Cup to reach such heights in the United States! Simply incredible!!!Wednesday’s games will be very important. I hope the US goes through; round of 16 v. Serbia/Germany/Ghana on a weekend would be excellent!

  6. The ratings are great news for ESPN/ABC but they need to be put in a little bit of perspective: NBC pulled in a 9.8 rating (16 million viewers) for this year’s Kentucky Derby. Even this year’s Belmont, the lowest rated Triple Crown race in history, pulled in a 3.0…easily better than what ESPN/ESPN2 is averaging.

    Americans like big events. Unfortunately, the odds that any of this viewership will mean anything to the sport in this country after the World Cup are very low. MLS will likely continue to pull in TV ratings that compare to the after-thought events on ESPN.

    1. Bobby,
      The ratings for the Kentuky Derby and any other event that you want to compare to are during the weekend and at a time where it’s very predictible Americans will watch TV. In the other hand the world cup games start at 4am pacific and most of them are during weekdays. Therefore your perspective is not completely accurate, and you may have to admit that Americans are getting more interested in Soccer! Having said that, Lets GO USA and lets host another World Cup in 2018 that the world will be watching us.

  7. As long as USA and Mexico advance, we will see high ratings. I’m hoping for a USA vs MExico in the quarter finals or Final. That would break all records.

  8. Soccer fans continue the lie that soccer viewership is “exploding” in the US. The percentage increases are meaningless, because the numbers are so low. Look at the real figures. A World Cup heavyweight match between France and Mexico drew all of 8 million viewers. The US game against Slovenia barely drew 5 million. By contrast, the 2010 Super Bowl had 168.5 million viewers in the US. That’s over TWENTY TIMES as many viewers. Soccer is not a popular spectator sport in the US, and despite what soccer fans have been saying for 50 years, it never will be.

  9. Lol. ESPN netwoks averaged a 1.9 rating for 2010 World Cup games…and it only happens once every four years…that’s horrible. That’s about 1/10 of viewership for regular season NFL games shown on ESPN….and there are multiple every year. Lebron’s announcement of where he would play next year drew an average of 7.3…and that was a weekday too. Soccer is still a distant 8th in the U.S. for major sports viewership behind NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, PGA and Tennis.

    1. Truth, or should I call you BS? It’s unfair to compare NFL against any other American sports, including soccer. NFL is America’s sport and everything else pales in comparison. But soccer gets higher TV ratings than NHL. Plus, the ratings for some of the World Cup games were higher than the first four games of the NBA Finals. No way is soccer number 8.

      The Gaffer

  10. 1.9 average U.S. rating for World Cup, huh? Even LeBron James’ ridiculous “The Decision” got a 7.0 rating on ESPN. Soccer is the sport of the future in the U.S…….and always will be.

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