Sunday’s live telecast of the World Cup game between the United States and Portugal on ESPN has broken the record for the most-watched soccer game in the history of US television.
ESPN’s broadcast of USA-Portugal was viewed by 18.22 million people, which beat the previous record of 17.97 million who watched the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. The ’99 final where the US women won the Women’s World Cup was televised on ABC, which makes Sunday night’s number even more impressive.
ESPN’s broadcast of USA-Portugal was the highest overnight rating for a World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2. To put that into context, the 9.1 overnight rating was greater than the 2012 Rose Bowl (9.0) and the 2013 college football game between Alabama and A&M University.
The match was also shown on Univision, which had 6.5 million viewers. That means that the total viewing audience for USA-Portugal on US television was 24.7 million, which is a landmark achievement for the sport of soccer in the United States.
On WatchESPN.com, meanwhile, ESPN had a high of 1.373 million viewers.
For the ESPN numbers, the top markets for USA-Portugal based on overnight ratings were:
Los Angeles 5.9,
San Francisco 3.3,
New York City 3.0, and
Over on Univision, 6.5 million people watched USA-Portugal, which goes on record as the most-viewed USA match in FIFA World Cup history for the Spanish-language network. Univision Deportes launched 24/7 coverage of the World Cup in June with the most coverage the United States has ever seen.
The next game for the USA will be against Germany on Thursday in a do-or-die match. Kickoff time is Noon ET, and the match will be shown live on ESPN and Univision.
Congratulations are in order to ESPN and Univision for achieving these incredible numbers. It took 15 years to beat the previous number. Imagine if the USA-Portugal had been shown on ABC instead.
H/T John Ourand.