If anyone doubted if soccer is a mainstream sport in the United States, they only have to look at the eyepopping numbers of people who watched the World Cup this weekend to see how ABC and Univision both had record TV ratings for soccer.
Saturday’s broadcast of the United States against Ghana game on ABC drew an outstanding 14.8 million viewers. The U.S.-Ghana game ranks as the most-watched Men’s World Cup game ever, with only the 1999 Women’s Final (U.S.-China) averaging more households and viewers for a soccer game (11,307,000 households and 17,975,000 viewers). Combined with the Univision viewing audience for the USA versus Ghana game, the total viewing audience was close to 20 million people in the States.
Sunday’s broadcast of Argentina against Mexico on Univision drew a record 9.36 million viewers, which is an all-time record for any genre of Spanish-language television programs ever in the United States. The previous record was 6.7 million TV viewers for the 2006 World Cup game also featuring Argentina and Mexico. ABC, meanwhile, drew a 3.9 overnight rating for Mexico vs Argentina on Sunday afternoon, the network’s highest overnight of the World Cup for a match that did not involve the United States.
For ABC on Saturday, San Diego was the top market for Saturday’s Team USA game, delivering a 15.4 rating. San Diego was the top market for all three previous U.S. matches – vs. England (11.5, ABC), vs. Slovenia (8.5, ESPN) and vs. Algeria (8.9, ESPN). Rounding out the top 10 for Saturday’s match were Washington, D.C. (13.8), San Francisco (13.3), Cincinnati (12.9), Las Vegas (11.7), Austin (11.4), Columbus, Ohio (10.6), Norfolk, Va. (10.6), Seattle-Tacoma (10.6) and West Palm Beach (10.5).
Through 50 games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the ESPN networks (ESPN/ESPN2/ABC) are averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating, 2,081,000 households, and 2,781,000 viewers. The rating is up 48% from 2006 (1.2), while household impressions are up 54% (from 1,349,000) and viewers are up 60% (from 1,740,000).