Sunday we reported that ESPN’s viewing numbers for the first five games of the tournament were double the number from four years ago. And now there’s more good news as the TV ratings and updated audience numbers for Saturday and Sunday’s matches add more ammunition to the argument that the 2010 World Cup is taking America by storm — especially when you consider that the England v USA game drew more viewers than each night of the first four games of the NBA Finals.

Consider the following new World Cup data points:

  • The TV audience for England against United States, on both ABC and Univision combined, was an astounding 17.0 million, according to Sports Media Watch.
  • The 17.0 million USA v England viewing number is bigger than the first four games of the NBA Finals (14.1 mil, 15.7 mil, 16.0 mil and 16.4 mil). That’s quite an accomplishment considering that the first four games of the NBA Finals have hit a six-year high in overnight ratings, with the exception of Game 1 — which tied a six-year high. Game 5 of the NBA finals netted a viewing audience of 18.2 million.
  • Other than the USA v England match, the highest viewing audience for a 2010 World Cup game was for the South Africa v Mexico where 5.3 million Americans watched the game on Univision. That’s the largest viewing number ever for a soccer game on Univision!
  • The most-watched game from Sunday was ABC’s Germany-Australia matchup – a 2.8 household rating, 3,270,000 households, and 4,657,000 viewers. Serbia-Ghana delivered a 2.3 household coverage rating, 2,248,000 households, and 3,002,000 viewers earlier in the day on ESPN, both based on fast nationals.
  • Nearly 1.3 million viewers have viewed live and replay World Cup matches on over the first three days of the tournament. That generated 73.6 million minutes of viewing (almost an hour per viewer). The number of minutes viewed in the opening three days is almost as many as had for the entire month of June 2009.

The above World Cup viewing figures are even more impressive when you consider the time of the day the games are shown. While the NBA Finals are shown during primetime, the England against United States match was shown during a Saturday mid-afternoon time slot. Plus, the England against USA match on ABC alone drew more viewers than every game of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. And that was after the June 9 broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC was the most-watched NHL game in the United States in 36 years with 8.28 million viewers.

As readers of EPL Talk have noted, the impressive TV ratings for the World Cup do not factor in the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans who watched the England against United States match in sports bars, pubs, baseball stadiums and other public venues across the States on Saturday.

What are your impressions of the viewing numbers thus far? Share your questions and observations in the comments section below.