USA-Portugal World Cup Game is Most-Watched Soccer Game In History Of US Television

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, 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:

Miami 7.9,
Los Angeles 5.9,
Houston 5.1,
San Francisco 3.3,
New York City 3.0, and
Dallas 3.0.

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.

27 thoughts on “USA-Portugal World Cup Game is Most-Watched Soccer Game In History Of US Television”

  1. Yep (to the above claim of at least 50 million watched), and this post makes me happy.

    America is finally, a footballing nation and we have been for awhile. Can’t wait until our team is truly world class. Right now it’s good and gritty, but we need to get some legit superstars born and created here now.

  2. Pretty impressive as this game wasn’t even on ABC, there were viewing parties all over the country, and this was a group stage match.

  3. I think it is great but like i said the WC is like the Olympics every 4 years get excited on everyday so easy to follow. I do not think it will transfer to increase interest to mls.

    1. Agree with you jtm that US interest in the World Cup is similar to the Olympics. Nobody cares about athletics or swimming but they rally around the flag every fours years.

      That said, I do expect that MLS will get a bounce. There is definitely a sea change occurring. The EPL coverage has raised awareness. Team USA has arrived as a legitimate soccer nation capable of competing in a World Cup. The outlaws are doing their bit to build a fan community. Websites like this one are playing their part. As a result, soccer is self sustaining in this country.

      1. Here is something nobody ever brought up. The typical American sports fan absolutely disgruntled with how the organizations he/she supports are handled they look for something different. Enter football. It’s right there in front of you. It’s like the girl that liked you but you found unattractive in junior high school, then all of a sudden she blossoms into a beauty at high school and then you take an interest. She was always there, she just packaged herself differently to force you to take notice. That’s how it was for me. (Football not the girl)

      2. Smokey
        the reason i don’t think the mls will get a bump is because the quality is not their. I know i sound like a snob but KC vs Dallas is not going to hook the casual fan.

        1. Im with JTM there. MLS is hard to watch. For some reason i get into the US Open Cup and until 20 minutes ago i was planning on going to see the Union take on the legendary New York Cosmos. (Plans fell thru)

  4. Don’t be delusional. Football is just like synchronized diving in the Olympics. It’s cool when your country is involved but nobody gives a sh!t once the tournament is over.

    America will finally be a football country when there is vested interest in the game itself not just blind patriotism. Typical hoo-rah go USA type mentality.

  5. It’s getting there though. The Premier league, La Liga,Serie A & Ligue One all enjoyed record viewership here in the states this year. It’s obvious one’s club support is not limited to one’s geographic location

  6. Gaffer, any word as to why they didn’t show this match (or any 6 pm eastern weekend match) on ABC? I enjoy Wipeout as much as anyone, but I feel like they had a golden opportunity to eclipse 25 million at least and absolutely blew it.

  7. I think alot of you guys are overreacting. I live in Boston which is a proud sports city of the big four especially hockey and football. We have two main sports stations, and the hosts and the callers who call in are all saying they are tuning in to the games which is great however they all say it is due to nationalism. They compare the World Cup to the Olympics which is not a great accomplishment for soccer. It’s great for the World Cup to be recognized as an event but in reality how many are these people going to watch la liga, epl, bundesliga, or mls? Not many. Another reason why I kind of agree with them about nationalism because compare those numbers to just the 4 million average for the other great exciting games and it’s kind of obvious. While we want the sport to grow in America lets not kid ourselves and call this country a footballing nation. In 2010 the olympic hockey final got 30 million viewers yet you don’t see Stanley cup final ratings at above 10 million for game 7. The growth is great to see, but the ratings are deceiving in that not everyone was a soccer fan, they just watched based on national pride.

  8. Good points, however I live in Boston as well and last world cup neither station barely referenced the tournament. The majority of people won’t be back but some will. Every world cup cycle more people stick with it and choose a club and most stay permanently. Football is infectious and once it gets in your blood it’s there for good.

    1. Trust me I want the sport to be huge in this country, but I just don’t see it with just the World Cup. Obviously we all know the World Cup does amazing ratings. The question is whether this World Cup will translate into people watch domestic football. I do agree people are talking more about it here, but they also are only watching the US games. Maybe that generates a couple more viewers but unless the epl gets 5 million viewers for big games or 8 million for a champions league final, I won’t ever say that football is big here.

  9. I notice how the soccer haters are saying there is no real interest in soccer and that it is just like the Olympics. Well the Premier League was getting record breaking viewers in America this year week by week. The EPL would get 8 Million viewers over a weekend and that was sometimes more than Baseball.

    I think there is an older generation in denial who grew up with no coverage of soccer in the US so had not interest and don’t realise a younger generation now prefer soccer to most of the big four sports because they see more soccer in the media than any previous generation.

    1. I don’t mean to burst your bubble but I’m sure there were many fans like me who couldn’t even get fox soccer, so the ratings are great but I watched more games cause I had nbcsn. And comparing the total of 10 epl games in a week to one baseball game out of 182 is pretty unfair. Most baseball fans just watch their team. I hate most American sports I want the sport to grow but I’m not going to live in denial and say that this sport is growing because of the ratings. Obviously alot has to do within better start times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *