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2010 World Cup Final: The Most Watched Soccer Game In U.S. History

espn univision logos 2010 World Cup Final: The Most Watched Soccer Game In U.S. History

The 2010 World Cup Final set a new record for the most watched soccer game in U.S. history Sunday when 24.3 million people watched the Spain versus Netherlands game on ABC and Univision, according to Nielsen.

Univision drew 8.821 million viewers, while ABC drew 15.45 million viewers according to Nielsen fast-nationals.

abc sports logo 2010 World Cup Final: The Most Watched Soccer Game In U.S. HistoryThe 2010 World Cup set another record in the United States by being the most-viewed World Cup ever on English-language TV. The 64-match World Cup averaged a 2.1 U.S. rating and 3.261 million viewers on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, up 31% in ratings and 41% in viewership from 2006 (1.6, 2.316 mil). Average viewing numbers for Univision are not yet available, but in comparison to viewing audiences for other sports, ESPN averaged 4.596 million viewers for the 2010 NBA Playoffs (ABC averaged 10.970 million for its 16-game coverage), and 4.311 million for its coverage of 2009-10 college football bowl games (ABC averaged 22.179 million for its three games).

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup was an overwhelming success for ESPN,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. “We experienced record viewership across multiple platforms, including television, broadband, online and ESPN Audio, and it was evident from the overwhelmingly positive reaction just how much fans were drawn to the spectacle of this global sports event. We are already looking ahead with great anticipation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.”

For Univision, this marks the most-viewed World Cup Final ever on the network and the second-most viewed World Cup match – behind Mexico/Argentina on June 27 (9.405 mil). Overall, the World Cup Final match ranks as the third-most viewed for any television program in Univision history.

UPDATE: Univision averaged 2.374 million viewers for coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, up 15% from 2006 and the highest average ever for the World Cup on the network.

How does the TV viewing audience for the 2010 World Cup Final compare to previous records, other countries and other sports? Let’s put this into perspective:

  • The previous record in the United States for the most watched soccer game on television was the 19.4 million viewers who watched the U.S. versus Ghana on the same networks earlier during the 2010 World Cup, followed by the 1994 World Cup Final (staged in the United States), which drew 18.1 million viewers on ABC and Univision. The final of the Women’s World Cup in 1999 between the United States and China drew 18 million on ABC.
  • The 24.3 million viewers marks the fourth-largest audience for any sporting event in 2010 (excludes NFL and primetime Olympic telecasts). Only the USA/Canada Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game (27.600 mil), Game 7 of the Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals (28.203 mil) and the BCS National Championship Game (30.776 mil) drew more viewers.
  • The combined audience drew more viewers than every single Major League Baseball game since 2004 and every single college basketball game since 1999.
  • In the United Kingdom, an average of 18.4 million viewers watched the 2010 World Cup Final on BBC and ITV combined.
  • Spain registered its highest ever TV audience as 15.6 million — an 85.9% audience share.
  • In Holland 8.5 million viewers — a 90.6% share — watched the game.
  • According to FIFA, a worldwide television audience of more than 700 million people watched the final.

Without a doubt, the 2010 World Cup Final is a landmark moment in the history of soccer in the United States. If anyone doubted whether soccer was growing in popularity in this country, then these are the numbers to prove them wrong.

If the United States had progressed farther in the tournament, one can only imagine how much higher the TV viewing audience would have been. Still, these are incredible numbers and full credit needs to go to ESPN, ABC, Univision and you, the soccer fans, for making the 2010 World Cup the most successful soccer tournament in US history.

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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.
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81 Responses to 2010 World Cup Final: The Most Watched Soccer Game In U.S. History

  1. UK – One third of the population watches a game were we are not even playing. Would that happen in any other country? I doubt it.
    Take your Brazil and shove it up your arse Kartik, England is the home of football.

  2. Simon Burke says:

    What a pity it was such a poor game, i have heard about 1 in 50 people say they truly enjoyed it. Fingers crossed the game itself hasnt hurt the growth in watching non-US games.

  3. Hey ‘Gaffer’. I’m surprised you haven’t been all over the talk that Bob Bradley maybe getting the job at Fulham. Atleast that was what the guys on Talk Sport in England were saying this morning when I was driving to work.

    I’m not sure England and the Prem is ready to have an American in charge at one of it’s clubs. This could really mark the end for English football if we start getting coaches in from your side of the pond.

    • Jason says:

      Yes, 1 american manager would single handedly bring English football to it’s knees. Brilliant.

      • Joking aside, I actually don’t think he did a bad job in the world cup, I just think that will be the view of a lot of people in England, Let’s face it, America and Americans are considered a joke in England when it comes to football. Fair? Maybe not, but that is the way it is and he will need to do a good job straight away as he may not get as long to succeed as another manager would do. Still, it would be interesting if it happens.

        • Jason says:

          I’ll definitely agree with that. He will have a much shorter leash than others. The one good thing he has going is that Fulham seems more open to Americans, maybe because of Dempseys mild success.

          That said, after their run in Europe it’s going to be tough to live up to that. They are arguably coming off their most successful year to date. It may not be a great situation for Bradley to walk into.

        • David says:

          Well a lot of people in England are retards if they jump to assumptions based off of someones nationality as credentials. Kinda like being a racist, isn’t it? Don’t be a moron, Bradley isn’t Mourinho but he’s not some hack manager. He has experience and could bring many skills to a place in England. Don’t be a snob.

        • Patrick says:

          Bob Bradley to Fulham is just some stupid article that goal.com came up with. They also said hypothetically what if he basically brings over 3/4 the USMNT with him…The article needs no serious consideration.
          The USMNT would be stupid to not bring Bradley back and everyone knows its not feasable to be coach for a club and a national team, so theirs really less than a 1% chance of it actually happening.

        • Dave C says:

          As an Englishman, I don’t think Americans are considered a joke in football at all. Maybe amongst Sun-reading mouth-breathers who don’t actually know anything about football. But amongst people who actually have some common sense, most people see that America has produced a bunch of decent players, and are a respectable national team. Maybe not world-beaters on an individual or collective level, but not mugs either. And maybe since the World Cup, even some of the Sun-readers will have learnt this too.

          Having said that, I think Bradley (or any American coach) getting a job in Europe would be a massive leap. He’s done pretty well as US manager. But I have a feeling his resume is way too thin for any one to gamble on.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Poker, I’ve been all over the news on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/epltalk

      The little information we have on the story thus far is from The Sun which doesn’t attribute the information to anyone, so we’ll have to wait until we get some better evidence.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • I don’t know, like I said I heard it on Talk Sport about 7.15am GMT.
        Could be that they got it from The Sun but I can’t see it, they are usually a little more reliable than that.
        Anyway, they never said he had got it, just that he was suppose to be one of two being considered along with Sven

        • The Gaffer says:

          Poker, The Sun was the first paper to report it even though there’s not one piece of evidence to suggest that the story is valid (it may be, but there’s nothing to prove it). The Mail wrote a story this morning based on The Sun’s article from last night. TalkSport are a bunch of hacks (take that from personal experience). They’re just regurgitating what they read in The Sun.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

  4. Dave says:

    The 24.3 million viewers marks the fourth-largest audience for any sporting event in 2010. Only the USA/Canada Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game (27.600 mil), Game 7 of the Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals (28.203 mil) and the BCS National Championship Game (30.776 mil) drew more viewers.

    You’re gonna have to clarify that one, because I’m pretty sure the Super Bowl outdrew all of them.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Dave, I should clarify. It’s the fourth largest audience of any sporting event in 2010 on US TV (not including the NFL and Olympics).

      I’ve updated the article to make a note of that.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Dave C (not the other Dave) says:

        Gaffer,
        Regarding that statement about it being the 4th biggest even of 2010 excluding the NFL and the Olympics. But you include the USA-Canada Olympic hockey game as one of the three bigger events. So how is it “excluding the Olympics” if it INCLUDES the Olympic ice-hockey?? Presumably you mean “excluding the SUMMER Olympics”? Sorry to be such a pedant.

        Also, why don’t you just say it’s the 6th biggest sporting event of 2010 – isn’t that the same thing. It seems like saying “Ultimate Frisbee is 2nd most televised sporting event of 2010, if you exclude the 245 other more popular sports”.

        I’m also kind of confused by this sentence:

        “The combined audience drew more viewers than every single Major League Baseball game since 2004 and every single college basketball game since 1999.”

        Do you mean a the combined WC final audience was bigger than every single MLB game since 2004 COMBINED, or just that the combined WC Final audience was bigger than any individual MLB game since 2004 (and likewise for college basketball). I’m no expert on MLB, basketball or viewing statistics, but I assume you mean the second interpretation. If that’s the case, maybe it would have read better as:

        “The combined audience drew more viewers than ANY single Major League Baseball game since 2004 and ANY single college basketball game since 1999.”

        Ok, that’s all. Sorry again for being a pedant, just wanted to make sure I understand it properly.

        • David the Yank says:

          Also, it wasn’t the 6th most watched game. There were at least 10 NFL playoff matches, including the Super Bowl, with far higher numbers of viewers.

          I’m repeating myself a bit but I think the message is:
          1) Americans prefer NFL viewing to any other sport by a wide margin, and the NFL is clearly the #1 viewed sporting event consistently in the USA;
          2) World Cup soccer has now hit the mainstream, such that the final, played on a Sunday summer afternoon, can now attract about as many viewers as an NBA finals Game 7 (!) matchup between the Lakers and Celtics, about as many as a gold medal Olympic hockey game, about as many as the final college football bowl game, and decidedly more than the final matches of *ANY OTHER* sport, including baseball, college basketball/MarchMadness, tennis, golf, ice hockey, auto racing, horse racing, etc.

          Finally, if ANY sport has a chance of supplanting the NFL, it is World Cup Soccer. (I am not saying it will, I am just saying that with baseball having peaked 30 years ago and basketball 10+ yrs ago, it is the only sport with a chance.) Because of the increasing Latino complexion of this country, because of the fact that many more kids play soccer than American football, it has a chance. I do think the only possibility for more viewers for a soccer match than the Super Bowl would be if the USA were to make the final. But if the USA made the final some year, it would have the chance to get as many viewers as the Super Bowl. No other sport could make that claim.

    • DCUDiplomat96 says:

      question was any of the other us championship Games on spanish Telivision????? so why folks are comparing most of the games which are shown in one channel/network compared to the world cup showing on two.

  5. David the Yank says:

    4th largest? You seem to be missing a small event that took place on Feb 7 in South Florida. Think it had a few more viewers than the “BCS Championship Game”!!! :)

    • Jason says:

      The 2010 superbowl was the most watched television program in history. 106 million.

      • EastTerracer says:

        …only the most watched television program in American history. If you follow the stats (or read the article above) you will know that over 700m people watched the World Cup Final gloabally.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer says:

        Most watched program in American history……not history. The Super Bowl gets about a total of 2 million viewers outside the US. Only Americans think it is a big deal.

      • Patrick says:

        It was also during primetime which Gaffer made a note about. It’s not really fair to compare a lot of these games to NFL games because lack of prime time status. People on the west coast would have to get up a 4-5 AM to catch a lot of these games. Than would of had to get up at like 9-10am to watch the final. If the World Cup final was held in a prime time spot I assure you its numbers could rival those of the NFL playoffs

    • The Gaffer says:

      See my above note, David. Good catch.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  6. fsquid says:

    Super Bowl not on the list?

  7. PH says:

    One thing to keep in mind that for Brazil 2014 the timezone should see games in prime time in the US so the strong ratings for this year should be smashed again

    • The Gaffer says:

      Sorry to burst everyone’s bubbles but most of the games for World Cup 2014 will not be on during primetime in the United States. FIFA will align the kickoff times so they’re primetime in Europe, which means we’re likely to see many Noon or 12:30pm ET kickoffs.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • CTBlues says:

        God forbid the Europeans have to stay up late to watch a soccer game. The ratings in the US would go up if we weren’t at work while the games are on.

        • The Gaffer says:

          CT, hear hear. Europe has had it far too easy for far too long.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

        • Lol, no one gives a crap about football in the U.S, why should we suffer?
          Anyway, it might not happen, I remember having to get up at 6 in the morning when they were in Asia in 2002, they didn’t take Europe into account then

          • The Gaffer says:

            Poker, 24 million people in America watched the World Cup Final. Obviously people here do give a crap.

            Six in the morning? That’s a walk in the park as far as most of us in the States are concerned. Many Americans are up for the 4.45am PT/7.45am ET Premier League game every Saturday. Plus, during the 2002 World Cup, most of the games were played in the middle of the night… i.e. 2-3am ET.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

          • Patrick says:

            There are more people in these timezones than just of those in the US…..are you just trolling for responses or are you this angry and spiteful all the time?

          • Dave C (not the other Dave) says:

            While I think Poker has grossly exaggerated his point, I think there is some obvious logic to why FIFA would tailor kick-off times to match European prime-time TV.

            FIFA want as many people to watch the World Cup as possible (or should I say, as many relatively wealthy people from developed countries as possible, thus driving up the price for advertising rights, and thus making FIFA more money). Sure, if the games were on during American prime-time, it might bring in more American viewers, but how many more? Another 25 million perhaps (i.e. doubling the total audience)? But at what cost – losing a huge number of European viewers.

            Even if 50 million people in the US would watch the WC Final if it was on during US primetime, this is still relatively few compared to the numbers of Europeans that would watch if it was on during European primetime. Without looking into the actual stats, I’m guessing around the figures for Europe would be maybe 20m in the UK and similar figures for Spain, Italy. Maybe slightly less for France, but maybe 30m in Germany since they have a bigger population – so that’s about 100m right there, before accounting for the other European nations. I’m guestimating that scheduling for European primetime (rather than US primetime) might also be more palatable for Asian audiences too.

            The bottom line is, FIFA go where the money is. They’re not going to increase the convenience for a (potential) American audience, at the risk of losing a larger, proven European market.

            Or maybe FIFA are just lazy like West Brom’s commercial people ;)

  8. Gary says:

    Pretty sure that the most watched soccer game in US History is the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final (USA v China from the Rose Bowl).

    • David the Yank says:

      It’s now been surpassed, certainly in number of viewers, and perhaps in ratings points also. (We were a smaller country back in 1999).

    • The Gaffer says:

      Gary, the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final is still the highest rated soccer game on US television. But while the ratings for the 2010 World Cup Final were not as large as in 1999, the total viewing audience (when you combine ABC and Univision numbers) for Sunday’s final was much higher than the ’99 final.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  9. dstorm says:

    Gaffer, do you have a link or e-mail address where we could provide some feedback to ESPN? (where somebody who cares will actually read it?)

    Their coverage absolutely exceeded my expectations – Overall, it was terrific.

  10. mondi says:

    This numbers look very good i am sure they will get much better in the future don’t matter what time the games will be play

  11. leafsfan1967 says:

    I’m glad to see the investment paid off for ESPN. On the whole their coverage was excellent and I sure hope that they stick to the British broadcast teams next time round.

    Does anyone know if ESPN has the rights for the next European championships?

  12. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Hey Gaffer why are you combine the number of people from the Univision ratings??? techinically it would only be 15 million!, if you want to properly compare to events like the world series and the Super Bowl, I dont see how Univision or spanish TV ratings would be relevant. Actually I think ita kinda skewed, Because ONly the ESPN/ABC ratings technically matter and factor more toward mainstream success, the spanish ratings doesnt really prove much. I mean if you gonna add the spanish ratiings you might as well add the CBC ratings as well. For soccer to have a decent footing in mainstream American sports scene, it has to do well in the English speaking media outlets.

    • The Gaffer says:

      DCU, because we’re calculating the number of viewers in the United States. Just as the media in the UK calculated the number of viewers for the World Cup Final on both BBC and ITV, the same is done in the States with ESPN and Univision.

      Univision viewing audience are extremely relevant. Plus, there are a lot of English speakers who prefer to watch Univision broadcasts of soccer.

      CBC is Canada. A different country.

      And lastly, I disagree with you when you say “For soccer to have a decent footing in mainstream American sports scene, it has to do well in the English speaking media outlets.” It’s a fact that the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States is growing at a rapid rate, so it’s more important than ever that both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking viewing numbers are considered as they’re an accurate reflection of the United States of America.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • maw4bc says:

      Basically you are saying that spanish speaking americans don’t matter? That is insane. If they showed the game on BET would you not count those numbers either?

      I am curious though if they show other major sporting events (ie superbowl, NFL, College Football, etc) on any of the spanish channels live. Cause if they don’t than the combined numbers for WC should be equivalent. But if you are leaving out the spanish speaking TV numbers for those events then it is not an equal comparison.

      • DCUDiplomat96 says:

        Im saying Spanish TV ratings doesnt impact the american mainstream sports scene , yes networks like ESPN created Deportes because there is money to benfit out of the latino community. But Soccer hasnt really impacted american Culture in a grand scale. MLS only has one Game on a week( ok thats good accomplishment) Hopefully if the Versus Talks go for better then they can get at least two Games on a weekly Basis on regular Cable/TV where there is more acces to viewers than FSC, GOL_TV and so on. Yes I understand Non spanish speaking people watch games on spanish speaking tv, I do myself, from time to time if I have access to it. But For Soccer to have a better success in the TV ratings department the english speaking ratings have to be consistently better. the Spanish TV mainly caters to the spanish speaking audience, where as english speaking caters more to the American sports fan audience.

        • Dave C says:

          DCU: I think the answer Gaffer gave already is the obvious one. The point of the article is to say how many people in the US watched the WC final – not how many people in the “mainstream” watched the game. That’s another subject that would need a whole different level of discussion: are people who primarily speak Spanish not “mainstream”; do “mainstream” people watch Spanish TV as an alternative to the ESPN coverage for some personal preference; etc etc.

          However, Maw4bc does have a good point. Assuming events like the Superbowl are also shown on Spanish-speaking TV (and I’m pretty sure they are), then the only fair comparison would be to compare combined English and Spanish language audiences for both events.

          • Dave C says:

            Ok further to my own post, I stand corrected regarding the Superbowl also being shown on Spanish-speaking TV. Apparently it isn’t. I’m not sure about other events though.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer says:

      If matches are on in both English and Spanish I tend to watch in Spanish because the commentary is better and camera work/production is also superior normally, so it is very relevant.

    • Eric says:

      Not sure if you’re just trolling or what, but how can you say that Spanish ratings ‘don’t really prove much’? This comment of yours is devoid of any logic as soon as you suggest adding the CBC ratings. Univision is an American station, whereas CBC is not.

      In order to figure the total number of viewers in the US, you need to add ABC, Univision, ESPN3.com, and ESPN mobile TV (the latter of which saved me in the event that I was working during a game).

      So just to clarify, when speaking of ‘American ratings figures’ for the World Cup, all American channels broadcasting said competition must be counted.

      If we had a feature like the Red Button in the UK where you can swap commentary, there’s a good chance Spanish-speaking viewers would have watched ESPN; but they watched a channel they are used to watching.

  13. mondi says:

    hey DCUDiplomat96 what is you problem or u are one of those people who don’t like the real football but u like that football that is not play with foot but play from some fat guys who don’t what to do they only know to run and eat junk food

  14. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Gaffer i was being sarcastic with the CBC, but my point is the Univision ratings arent relevant enough where it impact Mainstream sports media in America. It doesnt matter how many people watching the world Cup outside the United States, if anything those univision ratings re-enforces the barrier soccer has in reflected as a “foreigner sport”, and even lesser appealing to the American audience. The other thing I was Bothered with is the comparison to other US sporting events, techinically the only comparision the world cup should be compared to is the Olympic Games. both are internationally staged and prestiged, and both are held in four yr period. Major US sporting events are a yearly happenning. plus TV wise when has a spanish tv network broadcast major US Sporting events in comparison the english speaking ones??? My point is they dont, because the networks know and should be smart enough to know that there is no market for a spanish speaking viewer in College sports,or Major prosports! Combining the ratings only adds more insult when comparing them to other american major sporting events. Now! 15 Million or so Viewers! on ESPN/ABC both english speaking networks and primary source of American sports media, ofcourse you have FOX, Comcast and others. But the American network ratings are the most mattered. the Spanish speaking ones are nice but mainly the spanish speaking audience and the network paying for those right are the beneficiary, not mainstream america.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer says:

      You ought to do more research about the Latino/Hispanic demographic in the US and the networks before making wild assumptions. I’ll just leave it at that, because their is too much wrong with your statements to correct. It would literally take all day.

    • Matt says:

      Okay so apparently you still can’t figure this out, even when the Gaffer gives you a seemingly crystal clear explanation as to why we are pooling the ratings from ABC and Univision. Here it is, as simple as i can make it: Univision is an AMERICAN television network broadcasting Spanish programming. Univision is only shown in AMERICA, so the ratings are relevant. This isn’t the Super Bowl where it is only available on one network (for a myriad of reasons), this is the World Cup Final. WORLD Cup Final!

      By the way, the Hispanic numbers will continue to matter more and more in this country, so saying “the Spanish speaking ones are nice but mainly the spanish speaking audience and the network paying for those right are the beneficiary, not mainstream america.” is absolutely ridiculous.

  15. jleau says:

    Gaffer – agree that the spanish audience is very relevant and agree these numbers are very encouraging for the sport.

    However, why the need to use outlandish slanted statements on this topic? ” The 4th most watched event excluding the NFL and primetime olympics” what does this statement even mean? All it tells me is that it’s not the 4th most watched event so why even say that? I could say that the US is the largest country on earth excluding Russia and Canada. Or Germany is the 4th largest economy in the world excluding the US, China, and Japan. Those statements are true and non-sensical.

    I think soccer is growing in the US and I think the Latin population is an important fuel in that growth. Any statements suggesting that soccer is somehow 4th in the US sporting landscape is ridiculous. Even if I wish it were true.

    • David the Yank says:

      I agree. I think it is fairly silly to make the statement 4th most watched other than the 10 NFL matches that got much, much higher ratings.

      But I am struck, and tonight is a good night for me to write this, at the *change* in American viewing habits. When I was a kid, one of the nights I most looked forward to was watching the Major League Baseball All-Star game. In fact, in 1976 and 1980 were the peak years for such viewing with over 30 million Americans watching the MLB All-Star game those years. And the country only had 200 million people back then! There was essentially *NO* coverage of the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, however, so ratings for those Finals, say, were non-existent.

      Flash forward to me as an adult. Probably fewer than 15 million Americans will watch MLB tonight, even though the country’s population has grown by 50%! And 24 million Americans, and yes, some prefer Spanish and some prefer English, but they are nonetheless Americans, watched the World Cup Sunday. That is a huge accomplishment for soccer, and I think was the major point of the Gaffer’s original story. The World Cup final, now, is *CERTAINLY* mainstream. I would never miss a World Cup final, nor would my son, but we probably won’t bother to turn on tonight’s All-Star game.

      So for the World Cup final to outdraw every baseball game including the World Series, every basketball game save for Game 7 of the most storied franchises (Lakers-Celtics), every college bowl game, the final day of the Masters & US Open golf, every NASCAR race, the Kentucky Derby, the Stanley Cup finals, Tour de France, *EVERYTHING* save for the NFL, is very, very impressive indeed. And believe me advertisers will take notice.

      Soccer is the most-played sport for our country, and, no, I don’t think it will surpass NFL ratings in my lifetime, but if the US national team keeps improving, and starts competing, we could actually see NFL-type numbers in the future.

      Or, think of it this way, what *national* team do you actually care about? Yes, you may watch our gymnastics or volleyball or olympics basketball teams in Olympics, but I’m talking about a team you can follow, that plays competitive matches every year, competes in tournaments, plays rivals like Mexico (and hopefully Brazil/England, etc.). This is what other countries have that we are starting to have. And it’s really about the soccer team.

      That is why this may very well have been the break-through year for soccer, and it’s all about the follow-through. How many people will show up next month at the new Meadowlands to watch US v Brazil? Could the US play Mexico again in the Rose Bowl or Coliseum, and have at least a portion of the audience rooting for the USA?

      Very exciting times for soccer in this country!

    • The Gaffer says:

      Jleau, I disagree. I don’t think it’s outlandish. It’s a matter of fact. Other than the NFL and Olympics, the World Cup Final was the fourth most watched event in 2010. What’s wrong with that? It’s a factual statement to make that puts the achievement into perspective.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • jleau says:

        I don’t disagree that it’s a fact, my point is so what? You’ve pointed out that if you exclude the things that Americans care about most, the WC final was 4th best. What does that mean? What point are you really trying to get across because that appeared to me to be a poor attempt at sugar coating the fact that it was nowhere near the top.

        Not trying to put words in your mouth, but I think you were getting at the things that Dave the Yank said above. Can’t say that I disagree with any of his post.

        Dave – well said.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Jleau, sorry, I thought I got my point across. But being fourth, outside of the NFL and Olympics, is an absolutely massive achievement. Nothing is ever going to beat the NFL and the Olympics, so for soccer to come in number four after those is incredible because it gives us evidence that soccer finally became a mainstream sport in America this summer.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Dave C says:

            Gaffer,
            Further up the thread, I made a similar point to JLeau regarding the WC Final being the “fourth most watched sporting event apart from NFL and the Olympics”…I guess I can consider it roughly answered now. I guess what you mean is not equivalent to it being the Sixth most watched even, but rather that there are probably dozens of NFL games, and several Olympic events that got better viewing figures, plus whatever the other three better-watched events are.

            However, I can see why JLeau thought it was outlandish. At first reading, the sentence does appear equivalent to me saying “The Superbowl is the biggest sporting event in England (if you exclude every televised game of football, rubgy union, rugby league, cricket, tennis, boxing….frisbee….the british basketball championship on channel 270….the Indian Kabadhi league…. and the dog-olympics)”

            I’m still kind of curious as to how you say that it’s you are excluding the olympics, but then include the olympic ice hockey as one of the other three events – I assume your disclaimer referred only to the Summer Olympics.

  16. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    @ Kartik- Spanish Tv ratings still doesnt impact American sportscene. Plus on the English speaking outlets, only ESPN was consistent on the world Cup coverage. the other major networks just flirted with pre- cup news and pretty much the same question every four years, “Can Soccer Succeed”? jthe major US sports stories this past Month during the World Cup was 1. NBA Finals(first week) 2. College Football Conference realignment/ and speculation(first and second week of the world Cup) 3. Baseball- especially the Strausburg Debut. and ofcourse Lest Not forget, michael Vick, Lebron James, the French and wimbeldon, and TIGER!!! Soccer Has the niche appeal and should maintain that, there nothing wrong with that, MLS has sustained well as niche. USMNT Run was Nice the hardcore fans benifitted, But i think that the causual and overwhelming majority Mainstream american sports fans are disappointed. Not necessarily Bad that the US Games provided a serious respiratory test to the patriotism of the Americans watching. But when the US got knocked off by ghana, Mainstream interest dropped, outside espn you didnt have alot of world Cup talk, not as through or in curiosity as it was during the US run.

    • bradjmoore48 says:

      “Not necessarily Bad that the US Games provided a serious respiratory test to the patriotism of the Americans watching. But when the US got knocked off by ghana, Mainstream interest dropped, outside espn you didnt have alot of world Cup talk, not as through or in curiosity as it was during the US run.”

      1) That’s how most sports go in this country. If there is an Anaheim – Dodgers World Series, who outside L.A. cares about the World Series? Same with NBA finals, NHL finals. Only in the NFL do Americans watch the Super Bowl even when their team isn’t in it. In terms of ‘mainstream’ sports coverage, sports networks are businesses that are selling a product: sports. It’s their job to build up a sport and it’s playoffs/finals regardless of who’s involved.

      2) I’d like to get an idea of what you consider “mainstream” sports media. You can’t count the NFL Network, NBA TV, etc because those are geared towards certain professional leagues, nor can include subsidary networks of broadcast sports, like CBS College Sports, Fox Sports Net affiliates, or even FSC or GolTV since those are again geared towards specific sports or a certain level of play. What does that leave? CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox do not have 24-hour general sports networks, they show sports between and around other original programming. That pretty much leaves ESPN, in terms of TV. You could add Sports Illustrated for print, but SI had some pretty remarkable coverage of the World Cup as well. What else – the sports page of the Des Moines Register? :-)

      If you’re trying to say that soccer will leave the public eye until the next World Cup, then you’re probably right. I do agree with you it’s faulty to compare US World Cup matches to NBA finals games and World Series, since the World Cup is an event, i.e for many Americans, the only time in 4 years they will actually tolerate a soccer match. In the end, more people watched LeBron make his decision to go play for Miami than watched the US play Ghana. I don’t fault ESPN and Sports Illustrated for great coverage in spite of most American’s attitudes about soccer; DCUDiplomat, you shouldn’t either.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Brad, there were far more people who watched US play Ghana than who tuned into the LeBron James announcement. ESPN peaked at 13.1 million for that show. For the US v Ghana game, the combined audience on ABC/Univision drew 19.4 million.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • bradjmoore48 says:

          You are correct, Gaffer. I thought I had read somewhere 20M people tuned into The Decision, but officially, it was much lower. Maybe it was LeBron’s twitter :-) Oops.

          I still stand by everything else I said.

    • Good points about the other sports media, though your logic on Spanish language TV is still flawed.

    • Dave C says:

      DCU – yawn… Univision IS AN AMERICAN CHANNEL, broadcasting in the Spanish language. It certainly reflects part of the American sportscene. The people watching it are watching it IN AMERICA. Whether that part is a “mainstream” segment might be another debate, but for the purposes of this article it’s perfectly reasonable to compare total viewing figures for the WC final with other sporting events.

  17. JohnGregory says:

    I’m a bit compelled to speak on this subject. I’m an American, who’s been interested in the sport (soccer, football, whatever you’d like to call it) and especially international leagues since the 2008 Euro. I was also in the unique position of being in several countries during the World Cup. I was on vacation in London from June 18th to 22nd, and in Paris from the 23rd to 26th. Therefore, in just over a week, I got to see how audiences in three countries followed the World Cup. I watched the USA vs. England match from a bar in Chicago, then saw the USA vs. Slovenia and England vs. Algeria matches in London, and finally saw the USA vs. Algeria match in France, as well as watching the French team get eliminated at the group stage.

    Let me make this clear: Americans do care about soccer. Especially the World Cup. ESPN gave it huge coverage, every bar and pub was opening early for the matches, and it was definitely the talk of sports fans, running neck-in-neck with the concurrent NBA Finals. And seeing how English supporters reacted after the tie with Algeria, I can tell you there was the same kind of passion in the States over the bad calls in the Slovenia match.

    The MLS, however, could use the help of a boost from this. There’s a great segment of sports fans that caught World Cup fever, but simply cannot bring themselves to care at all about the local MLS team. Part of it is the lack of real news: there’s no free agent, trade, or signing talk due to the single-ownership system, so ESPN ignores coverage of it in favor of juicier sports stories. There’s not widespread TV coverage of games themselves. On top of that, Americans know these aren’t close to the best players in the world. Unlike the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, MLS is obviously not where the best players go, and I think that hurts any league. Equate it to how Europeans felt about NFL Europa-yeah, sure, it’s your local team, but how interested are you when you know these are second tier players?

    I’ll be interested to see what the ratings for Premier League matches are on ESPN this coming season. I’m sure they’ll beat out the ratings for MLS matches, even in a much earlier timeslot.

  18. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Im sorry if some of yall dont understand, But the spanish tv ratings just dont impact the American sports scene, I think some folks who do think they do are just a closed box. yes we Know the world Cup is the Biggest event, yes we know champions league is the biggest even, but it doesnt matter in the united states, thats soccers biggest problem. understand and embracing and respecting the American sports culture for what it is. Americans have not really benefitted from soccer culture. heck just the other Day on Fox sports Radio a dude wanted to talk about the world cup final 12 hours after it was over on the top latenight sports talk radio show JT the brick show, one of the host explained to him that nobody wanted to talk about it, that its not much important anymore especially since the game was over. ofcourse obviously the dude wasnt a regular caller on the show, but even the host realized that soccer only is gonna be important when american people want to make it important. So if you feel that 8 million or so Spanish tv viewers is really gonna move the overwhelming sports mad english speaking American sports fan, then be my guest. Im just saying that the soccer powers that be and the other who relate need get off the wonder drug syndrome. US Soccer needs to find a abetter way to market better, not just the soccer mom or the eurosnob, or even the the precious “yes we do count” latino fan base. and no im not being racist or anti-ethnic about it. Just think about why MLS doesnt really get alot of headline outside its locals or in the national stage, why dont MLS is took more seriously not as a soccer league but as a sports league period. Teams need to know how to market themselves better so they can get real success. ESPN is fine but guest what, outside of ESPN who is really talking about you?(MLS/US Soccer?) ESPN and deportes have done more than thier share to “promote” soccer in America, I think in a couple ways Soccer has been more of a exclusionary ideal than a broadening open- mind set. Sure we get “soccer only people” but World success doesnt mean American success.

    • Eric says:

      Unfortunately, you’re the only one here who doesn’t understand. More than 10% of America (30+ million people) are Hispanic. Your preference for what English-speaking media deem acceptable and ‘mainstream’ is up to you, but it’s really just laughable. In the end you’re basically childishly screaming out that it’s not fair that Spanish-speaking people contribute to the ratings of the World Cup, but not to basketball or American football.

      Well, that’s how it is. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but don’t expect too many (if any) people to agree with you.

  19. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Americans care about the world cup?? hmm maybe when america is playing and for how long they are in it until they get beat! for the last twenty yrs Soccer has basically been a flirtation or a one night stand. the Premier League Games on ESPN is a money grab, so there is a few soccer fans that get up early in the morning for games, Good to go ESPN jumps on it, wow a bunch of mexicans love soccer, get ESPN deportes and watch that money tree grow. LOL Really there is nothing wrong with that, from ESPN standpoint(yes mr. Skipper is a eurosnob, sucks for american soccer fans, and MLS fans) but soccer doesnt have a foothold in this country, not even close. the federation doesnt want to invest in what has already been established- college soccer!! they should. Youth soccer? debatable, World Cup a four Year Flirt yes it is. Does US Soccer need to market better Yes!, Does MLS need to market Better Hells yes!.. Soccer needs to find its plot and stay with it. trying to be eurosnob deosnt work, facing the big dogs is the only way in these Neck of the woods(USA) US Soccer has to win to be considered a success. MLS has to appeal more to american people, to be a success. Soccer over all has to be appealing to achieve success in America.

    • JW says:

      I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more important people than JT the Brick who will decide whether or not soccer is important. And I’m guessing the companies who will continue paying more and more money to advertise during EPL, MLS, Champions League, etc are those people. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter whether talk show hosts embrace it or not, whether we “count” the Spanish-speaking viewers as a relevant audience — the more viewers of any kind that advertisers see, the more they’re going to push it into prominence.

  20. UpTheBlues says:

    I think the best part about this World Cup tv-wise is how the ratings have proven that soccer is a huge market here in the US. I seriously hope the advertisers/tv networks catch on to this and show more soccer, any league, here in the US. The sport will win fans over in time. But first win over the advertisers, and then the fans will eventually come.

  21. eplnfl says:

    Please excuse me and some of the others who for years believed that soccer could make it in America that we seem especially head over heels over the tv ratings for this World Cup. We have waited a long time to be able to say main street America watched soccer. We also believed that if ESPN would present soccer as well and fully as it does other sports that people would watch and ineterst would grow. We where right. For Chris and Kartik it’s a personal as well as professional achievement. Their worked helped make the ratings you saw for both ESPN and Univision. Well done.

    Now there needs to be more work done the MLS our top flight league needs fans to watch. That is the next step for soccer to succeed in America. Until the MLS ratings and attendance increase ,the job is not done and American soccer will remain a step-child of the other major sports until the tv numbers especially rise. More interest will lead to better quality players.

    The other job still remaining is for US soccer to get it’s due on the international scene. One milestone will be when an American coach is named for a team in a top flight European league. So, if Bob Bradley gets the Fulham job another barrier will be broken and American soccer will take another step forward.

    There is no limit to soccers growth in America and ESPN’s success is the fans success.

  22. Dave C says:

    Just a few thoughts about the various debates going on here:

    (1) DCU – calm down man. Even if we agree with you that the Spanish-speaking media is not “part of the mainstream”, ABC still drew 15m viewers – that’s a fairly signficant number for an event that did not involve an American participants, in an event that is not traditionally seen as of interest to Americans.

    (2) As for the actual stats, I assume these don’t include all the people who watch in bars, at house-parties etc. I can’t back this up with any facts, but I believe that if you could factor these people in, the event might compare much more favorably against the Olympics (maybe even exceed it). I mean let’s face it – who goes to a bar or organizes a party to watch the 100m Sprint at the Olympics? The vast majority of the Olympic events are just not “events” in the same sense as the WC Final, the Superbowl or whatever else. Likewise, did anyone go to a bar to watch James LeBon’s big decision?

    (3) From my personal experience, the WC seems to have been very popular in the US. I live and work in NYC, and all the bars have been overflowing for every game. I’ve spoken to people at work about games, people I had never before spoken to about anything. And these are what DCU might refer to as “mainstream” American people – not just die-hard soccer fans, not immigrants, and including people from all over the States.

    Now I accept my own experience is highly anecdotal, and maybe not true of America as a whole. I can’t imagine what the situation is like elsewhere. But I think that’s a lot of people’s problem – America is such a big and diverse country, the vast majority of people (myself included) have know real knowledge of the country outside of their own little corner of the nation. So to soccer fans who have watched every game in a crowded bar in some metropolis, they will come away thinking “hey, soccer is now getting really big in the USA”. Meanwhile, someone who is generally not a soccer fan, who has gone out of their way to avoid the “boring” media coverage, and who’s friends all feel likewise, probably thinks “pah, hardly anyone in this country likes that stupid game.”

  23. David the Yank says:

    Re Brazil 2014 kickoff times, I think we can be fairly confident of the following:

    The final & 3rd place matches, which will be played on Sunday, July 13 & Saturday July 12, will be afternoon matches in Brazil, and kick off between 2 & 4 pm on the East Coast. The same was true for the final in LA in 1994.

    There will be some US East Coast prime time matches, as there were in 1994. Hopefully they can align it, so if, say Uruguay played Mexico in the first round, or Korea-Argentina, or Brazil-North Korea, or Honduras-Chile (all 1st round matches this year), they could be moved to prime time. Better for the people in those countries than afternoon matches. Some will depend on scheduling and stadiums. But the US World Cup had some east coast prime time matches.

    For the semi-finals, I imagine they’ll stick with Tues/Wed and have them kickoff at 3 or 4 pm EDT time. In the US world cup, both semifinals were played on Wednesday, with the Giants Stadium semi (Bulg-Ita) kicking off at 4 pm in NY, while the Brazil-Sweden matched followed immediately thereafter at 4:30 LA time, or 7:30 pm in NY and 1:30 am (!) in Sweden. I just don’t think they’ll repeat that, and we’ll probably have late afternoon kickoffs Brazil time. (The Korea/Japan semifinal kickoffs were 8:30 local time, which were 7:30 am in NY, 4:30 am in LA, and 1:30 pm Central European Time.

  24. looking forward 2014 brasil….

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