In addition to revenue generated, sponsorships and attendances, TV ratings are one of the key metrics that US Soccer measures to gauge the effectiveness of the federation. During 2016, both the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) and US Women’s National Team (USWNT) saw impressive ratings figures from participating in Copa America and the Olympics respectively. While the attendance figures look grim, the TV ratings picture is somewhat rosier.
For the USMNT in 2016, the average viewing audience for their games on English-language television in the United States increased by 32% to 965,842 compared to 728,550 in 2015.
If the 2016 TV numbers for the USMNT games in Copa America are eliminated for more of an apples to apples comparison with 2015, the viewing audience average plummets to 466,308.
Meanwhile, the average viewership for games featuring the USWNT in 2016 is 721,450. If the USWNT games from the Olympics and Olympics qualifying are removed, the average drops to 298,688 viewers per game.
Looking at the TV viewing numbers for the US Women’s National Team in 2016, the average decreased 71% from 2,522,400 in 2015. Given that it’s the year after the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a significant drop-off was to be expected.
While the numbers for the Olympics were impressive, the number that jumps out in 2016 is the 622,000 for the friendly against Colombia in April. It’s much higher than any other friendly. But looking back, that game was played just a few days after the USWNT had filed their wage discrimination complaint and therefore had a larger than normal spotlight on them.
So despite falling attendance, US Soccer is still doing well on TV with both the USMNT and USWNT drawing well over half a million viewers per game. The gap between the viewership for the two should widen significantly next year as the USWNT does not play another competitive game until 2018 at the earliest while the USMNT has World Cup Qualifying and the Gold Cup next year.
2016 USMNT TV viewing audiences
January 31: USA vs. Iceland (friendly) – ESPN2 – 531,000
February 5: USA vs. Canada (friendly) – FS1 – 294,000
March 25: Guatemala vs. USA (World Cup Qualifier) – beIN SPORTS – 162,000
March 29: USA vs. Guatemala (World Cup Qualifier) – ESPN2 – 954,000
May 22: Puerto Rico vs. USA (friendly) – FS1 – 304,000
May 25: USA vs. Ecuador (friendly) – ESPN2 – 429,000
May 28: USA vs. Bolivia (friendly) – FS1 – 454,000