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Record TV Ratings For Gold Cup Final Show FOX Its Missed Opportunity

Two weeks ago I wrote an article entitled Why the Gold Cup Final Should Be on FOX, which argued that the chance of a USA against Mexico Gold Cup Final would have been a potential home run ratings bonanza for FOX.  However FOX stuck to its guns and decided to keep the final on FOX Soccer instead of putting it on FOX, the broadcast TV network.  It is a decision I believe they would like to have back.

It was an accomplishment for FOX as FOX Soccer almost drew a million viewers and earned a 1.47 overnight share rating. That was their highest audience number ever and the first time FOX Soccer received over a 1.0 rating.  However the majority of the people viewing the game in the United States was on Spanish language channel Univision.  Univision, readily available across the country, received about eight million viewers for its coverage of the match.  The eight million viewers for Univision’s coverage topped the viewing for all shows in the US last week — all television shows in all languages, beating NBC’s reality shows such as America’s Got Talent and the season premiere of HBO’s True Blood.  At this time the staff at Nielsen (the television ratings people) are checking to see if this is indeed the first time a Spanish channel’s airing has topped the charts.

A difference of nearly seven million viewers between FOX Soccer and Univision is almost as big a disparity as the number of Mexican fans to American fans at the Rose Bowl.  There is simply no doubt that if FOX had aired the game on its national network that they would’ve hit the jackpot.  They would have attracted the casual fan through a simple ad campaign in the run up — as simple as their ads get when it comes to its weekly MLB coverage and its NASCAR coverage.  Casual fans would have definitely tuned in, as we’ve seen previously during last year’s World Cup.  They would have convinced the hard core followers of soccer in America that they are fully committed to their soccer coverage.  FOX had prior shown some commitment with the recent rebranding of FSC but I believe this mistake has caused much speculation amongst fans.

FOX missed a sitter on Saturday night.

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  1. WSW

    July 1, 2011 at 1:44 am

    just maybe you can watch Univision without having cable and FSC you need a premium subscription. Problem solved.

    Problem 2: You want to make soccer more exciting in U.S. = pro/rel

    not now maybe in a decade.

    • nicc

      July 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

      I was having this debate with my boss yesterday and we looked it up.

      as of June 1 2011, Univision is only available via broadcast, ie no cable/sat, in 62 markets in the country and not all of those are in HD.
      VA does not have any of those markets and we have a healthy sized Hispanic population. none of the cable/sat providers here offer Univision in HD yet they all offer FSC in HD as part of the basic package, ie not premium.

      also, I tried to see what Univisions US match broadcasts were like but they werent airing any of the US matches, that was strictly FSC. I find it odd if Univision was airing these matches in market A but not market B…

      • bradjmoore48

        July 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

        You must live outside Northern VA, I get Univision and Telefutura HD on cable, and it’s available over the air (I live in Arlington, VA). Except for the semifinal and final, I believe all US matches were on Telefutura and not Univision. Also, you could have watched all of the Gold Cup games online live and for free on (will also be doing this for the Copa America)

        Outside of those 62 market areas, you can get Univision and TF HD with a satellite but you have to get a Spanish package. Univision is available for English packages (not in HD though) but not TF or Galavision, at least with DirecTV.

    • ExtraMedium

      July 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Japan launched j league in 93 after never having pro soccer. Pro/rel added in 99.

  2. Vince Clortho

    June 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Anyone else here watch Univision (muted) cuz comcast doesn’t have FSC in HD?

  3. Roger

    June 30, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I think ABC could be a good candidate to show the USMNT’s games. They don’t really have a big draw for any other show on their slot and don’t really televise any sport beside the NBA and college football. All of those sports occur during the fall or end during late spring. After all, ESPN is owned by ABC so it shouldn’t be that much of a move if they televise those games there.

    ABC could also televise other national teams games besides only the USMNT. if they did, they would jump on the Soccer boom in this country and generate potential good ratings.

  4. Roger

    June 30, 2011 at 5:00 am

    A couple of reasons that would prove vital: 1. The overwhelming large and primarily Mexican/Latino fanbase and sensibility of the game (including the presentation). 2. The disrespect (minor) from the Mexican fanbase (a portion of them booing the national anthem and the “puto” chant). 3. The USNT getting their butts handed to by Mexicans. Al of this would equal more of a negative image for US soccer and soccer in America in general, plus other propaganda.

    FOX’s eclectic sister network would jump on this like flies on excrement.

  5. jon

    June 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Espn screwed up by not buying the Copa America rights. They said they wanted it but since they lost the internet rights to it they didnt want it all. They either wanted both internet+tv rights so espn, espn2 and could all show it. Now you cawn only watch the Copa America on Univision only in spanish.If you want to watch it on tv in english tough luck because you can’t. On the internet you can watch it though because is gonna show it all for free in english.

    • Matt

      June 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

      and you care about this little pretend tournament because…

      It is reasonable for them to require both internet and tv because their presentation online is unparalleled. Free and in better quality than the damn $15 per month

      • Sancho

        July 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm

        Because if you like good soccer, this is the BEST continental soccer tournament available within a World Cup cicle. Although Conmebol is terrible in organizing and selling it (Mexico U23 and Japan?!)…

      • ExtraMedium

        July 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        Dude. It’s the oldest continental cup. Sometimes I think mls talk readers aren’t soccer fans, just NA franchise system defenders.

  6. dan

    June 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    FOX f*ed up. We all saw this coming. Hopefully they learn and invest next time. They did great with the Champions League Final so hopefully they are learning.

  7. Cory D

    June 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I couldn’t get FSC on the cable or on a feed on the Web. So I watched it on Univison with the commentators on mute. Fox makes horrible decisions and should not be covering soccer.

  8. SSReporters

    June 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The last thing the USMNT needed was this game to be on FOX where more people could watch us get our asses brutally kicked as Bob Bradley sits pretty.

  9. Think Tank

    June 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    those are nearly 1M people not caring about MLS. proof that MLS is doing something wrong cuz those million dont care about MLS

  10. Jake islas

    June 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I think you missed a big point in that most people could watch univision in hd. I watched all the US games on univision because it was in hd, and fox soccer wasn’t available in hd.

    • Alan

      June 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      I just have to ask. Where is Univision available? I have had 5 different cable providers in Michigan and not one had Univision.

    • Matt

      June 30, 2011 at 11:16 am

      I am wondering the same thing myself. Milwaukee has a massive latin population on the south side, and yet Time Warner (the major cable provider for Southern Wisconsin) does not carry Univision HD. And the standard def feed, at least for the other Mexican games, made me want to scratch my eyes out it was so bad.

  11. central harlemite

    June 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Don’t forget Tim Howards exclamations about the use of spanish at the end of the CCL, and lets be honest, FOX is also a political station. The rose bowl was full of mestizo’s and many of the people who view fox daily make negative statements about mestizo’s and others in the united states. I agree that Fox should have shown it prime time, but looking back at the crowd, the domination by spanish at the ending ceremony, and tim howards comments, and the domination mexico provided after the 2-0 lead by the States, I think FOX may have been wise in not viewing this game. USSOcccer and all sports leagues in the states need addressing from the NCAA to the NFL , do you agree?

    • Earl Reed

      June 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      No, I don’t think that the GC Final would have flown on FOX News, either. Oh, right, that wasn’t what was being suggested.

      Thank you.

      • central harlemite

        June 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        what I am suggesting is that FOX understands they are a corporation. FOX isnt just FOX sports, it is FOX news and etc. and because of that they have to consider their total audience. The modern media is totally interweaved Earl. do you really think that the managers at FOX arent aware of the populations who watch their different channels? FOX’s main channels are watched by those who watch FOX news and etc. and the demographic difference, and the political views of that demographic, is why FOX didn’t put the GC Finals, with a rose bowl stadium filled with mestizo fans chanting for a very victorious mexico trouncing the States.

      • central harlemite

        July 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

        do you think FOX corporations political leanings, affect their sports displays?

        • bradjmoore48

          July 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm

          If it did, why would Fox even consider having it’s own soccer network, or a Spanish language sports channel, hmm? Don’t let the politics espoused on Fox News fool you, Rupert Murdoch and co. only care about 1 thing – -$$$.

          • central harlemite

            July 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

            Money is the reason they didnt show it on their prime stations.
            FOX Soccer is the biggest most available english soccer network in the states, I assume. FOX news is one of the biggest news outlets and big with a certain demographic.

            These two dont mix. FOX knows this. If they would have shown a bunch of mexicans cheering over the States team at the Rose Bowl, on FOX as the article suggest, they would have had a complicated situation. Yes they would have gained profits, but they would also gained the ire of huge segments of their audience. And they would have lost money in the long term as the voice of the right and the republican party and tea party and etc.
            Money isnt just about grabbing opportunities, it is about understanding the penalties certain opportunities bring.

            brad, what do you think of this?

    • The original Tom

      June 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      FOX should have had Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannitty as celebrity sideline reporters.

      • bradjmoore48

        July 3, 2011 at 1:44 am

        central – As Earl said earlier, you’re reading into something that hasn’t been suggested. The GC final wasn’t on Fox because it wasn’t going to get the ratings to justify it being on the network. A 1.4 rating on Fox Soccer was still below the 3.0 (or so) mark that COPS got that same Saturday.

        Also, if Fox was really concerned about this image of mestizos trouncing the US, why would Fox even buy the rights for the tournament to begin with? In fact, the US was trounced twice, by Panama and by Mexico. What if they lost to Canada or Guadeloupe, or Jamaica? Wouldn’t the risk of ANY of those countries beating the mighty US be enough for the heads at Fox to not bother with the tournament, and creating this image. If you follow TV rights issues you are aware that Fox Soccer waited until the absolute last minute to purchase TV rights to the US domestic league, but shelled out tens of millions for European, Mexican and South American soccer, no questions asked. Again, if the Fox company line is “America first,” and it applies to all of their channels and programming, why did they wait so long? I’m trying to go the full extent of your logic, and as you can see, it doesn’t fit.

        As for your article, call me a snob, but I have no interest in reading sports economic “fan fiction,” especially if you can’t even use your real name in the byline.


  12. Earl Reed

    June 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

    There would be a way to find out if your theory is right, but I don’t know if Nielsen goes that in-depth.

    How many of those who watched the Univision coverage identify English as their first language?

    But there are other issues. I have this feeling that Univision is well-tied to CONCACAF. I don’t know how the politics/distribution rights stuff goes, but I’m guessing Univision and FOX negotiated advertising prices etc based on the premise that FOX Soccer would air the English coverage. So if they switched to FOX, I’m guessing that Univision could lodge a complaint over lost ad revenues.

    Honestly, it goes right along with our federation undervaluing all things American soccer. From the quality on the team, to the near afterthought called the US Open Cup, US Soccer is a laggard. This last two months has frustrated the hell out of me, and it’s time that somebody did something about it. We need someone with energy, not Sunil Gulati.

  13. Yonel

    June 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I can’t understand a capitalistic, free market society as the USA is so bias about a very lucrative sport, Soccer. If you look at the growth of Soccer in the USA, must MLS teams attract more fans than the NBA, MLB except for the New York Yankees who average 40,000 plus. I believe Soccer will endure. The Gold Cup, as far as I am concerned was not a failure for the US national team. It was the main stream media bias that failed the public. For me, sport is sport. Wether it is Basebal, Basketball if it is the US playing, I will support it. That did not happened in the Gold Cup. Imagine, the US playing Mexico in its home soil and the Mexicans fans beating them 9 to 1. It is a shame! The media always give some invalid excuses to why they are not interested in soccer, “Soccer is boring” I challenge them to go watch the final game between The US and Mexico, it was a thriller!! Even though the US lost, but it was a fun game to watch. It is about time to have more go USA, USA instead of ole. ole.

    • nc

      June 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      You are incorrect regarding MLS “attracting more fans than MLB except the Yankees”. According to the lowest draw in all of major league baseball last year was the Cleveland Indians who drew 1,391,644 fans, an average of 17,180 per game. According to this web site that is more than the whole of MLS for last year (16,677)

      That is comparing the worst draw in baseball to MLS. The league as a whole kills MLS.

      Also, the true measure of human interest is really not the gate, but viewers. MLB has the enormous tv deals and MLS doesn’t because the market dictates that.

      I’m good with MLS/NHL comparisons. That is a smaller gap in the United States (certainly not Canada). But it really ends there.

      • Earl Reed

        June 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm

        It’s tough to even consider the comparison between MLB and MLS in terms of attendance. Most of the American soccer stadiums which focus towards the sport are geared for around 18,000 people. MLB stadiums average about 45,000 capacity. So it’s literally apples to oranges.

        In terms of percentage use, MLS is typically better. So in other words, they are better at gauging the correct size for their stadiums, and/or marketing to fill what they can fit. I’d say the atmosphere at MLS games typically are better than MLB because of the percentage filled at most games. Of course it depends on the market, as well.

        • nc

          June 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm

          With all due respect Earl I don’t agree with your first paragraph at all. Whether capacity is 45,000 or 28,000, or 15,000 the number of butts in the seats per game are what counts. If MLS thought they could consistently average double what they currently draw then the recent stadium builds would have considered that and designed for a larger capacity. This is a worthless debate. MLB is in another stratosphere than MLS in terms of attendance.

          Your second paragraph is right on. MLB is late in the game in doing this but they’ve also identified that issue. The Marlins new park set to open next year will have a capacity in the 30K range. Oakland reduced their available tickets down to that range too in an effort to make the atmosphere more intimate.

    • Charles

      June 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Your facts are skewed AND incorrect.

      Every team in baseball will draw over 1 million fans. I would say most are already over that mark.
      The Sounders are 36k x 17 games = 612k ( roughly )

      per game it is not even close either..Florida is worst at 16,700+ right now. That is close to an average MLS team

      Glad you love soccer, stats are not your strong suit.

      • Alan

        June 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm

        How many MLS league games are there a year per team? Less than 20 at home.

        How many MLB league games are there a year per team? Around 75 at home.

      • nc

        June 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        The statistic up for debate is the attendance per game. I threw out the total number in my post simply because that is the number cited by the web site I used. Actually you are using an unfair comparison by using the Sounders (the one team that skews the averages for the league) and comparing their attendance for an entire season to the Marlins who are not even halfway through their season. You need to use 2010 numbers for major league baseball (that being the most recent complete season). Cleveland was the lowest draw that year.

        You say per game its not even close….um…you took the lowest draw for this year in MLB and admit that they meet the MLS league average. Thank you for supporting my argument

        • Alan

          June 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm

          American football, baseball, and basketball are the top 3 sports in the United States. Its just reality. It isn’t changing anytime soon.

    • Tuttle

      June 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Also wrong about the NBA. They average slightly more attendance than MLS with venues that are almost all smaller and they play about a thousand more games every season.

      But that said, I’m actually stunned and hopeful about what MLS does average. We outdraw the Turkish and Russian leagues? That’s impressive. We also outdraw Portugal and Scotland, but there’s some serious population-level dissonance in those comparisons.

      Does make you wonder how Portugal, a nation with less people in it than metropolitan Chicago, supports four tiers of professional leagues and produces the occasional Champions League winner while our league… can’t.

      • jon

        June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm

        A country so small produces some of the best talent in players and coaches on Earth. How come we dont have a Mourinho or CR7 yet?

        • Alan

          June 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm

          America just doesn’t like soccer. With Portugal it is their main sport. There are a lot more popular sports here than soccer. There are World Cup fans and maybe those that are fans of the really big matches, but we are just not a soccer nation yet. It will be a long time before we are, no matter what we do.

      • jemoer

        June 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

        Netherlands is 2nd on the list with only 16million people, Uruguay the no 4 of the last world Cup only has 3,5 million people

      • ExtraMedium

        July 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm

        Come on you know the answer. MLS hijacked USSF.

        1. independent clubs
        2. open-pyramid
        3. pro/rel
        4. US dominates CONCACAF
        5. Set sights on world cup win

        • Alan

          July 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

          That’s why England wins the World Cup every year. Seriously, there is a lot more that needs to happen to change our soccer culture in
          America for that to happen. To simplify it like that is unrealistic.

          • central harlemite

            July 1, 2011 at 4:47 pm

            Look what happened to the Canadian womens side. France built up their side and they show far more quality than a Canadian side that has been in it for years. Development is the problem, and I think it is indiciative of all sports in north america

            what do you think ?

            do you think economic divisions could help all sports in the States?

          • Alan

            July 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

            I totally agree that development is a problem. I think that it has to do with the fact that we don’t view soccer as a top sport in this country. There are fans, but most people could care less about it. We need to change that and work at starting development at a young age. The number of people in the United States in relation to how many players we develop doesn’t matter if nobody cares about the sport. To suggest that we will win the world cup by having pro/rel and independent clubs is ridiculous at best. Development needs to change at all levels, and the nation’s attitude about soccer needs to change. We don’t need to model ourselves after EPL. England is not winning a world cup anytime soon.

      • ExtraMedium

        July 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        “But that said, I’m actually stunned and hopeful about what MLS does average. We outdraw the Turkish and Russian leagues? That’s impressive. We also outdraw Portugal and Scotland, but there’s some serious population-level dissonance in those comparisons.”

        “The Soccer Don” told sports business journal avg ticket price is $21. 17*$21*17400 = $6,211,800

  14. Charles

    June 29, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I don’t get what you are saying ?

    Are you saying that if FOX puts it on a non-subscription big time station they draw a LOT more fans than a 1.47 rating…..I don’t know if I agree.

    Also, they need enough extra fans that when they put a meaningless EPL game replay from last year in its place ( with all the FSC subscribers watching their other channel ) it makes up the difference.

    You really think that is going to happen ? More likely not.

  15. MrTuktoyaktuk

    June 29, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Gold Cup final 2009

  16. MrTuktoyaktuk

    June 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I was going to give Fox a bye on this based on they couldn’t have anticipated the big interest in the game, but then I looked at what Univision’s ratings were for Gold Cup 2009. They got 5.4 million viewers for what was a noon kick off Pacific Time. So there was a basis to see that this year’s edition might be big as well. Fox really should consider doubling down for Gold Cup 2013 and making both an advertiser and viewership push a la UEFA Champions League coverage.

  17. Rabble Rouser

    June 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

    “There is simply no doubt that if FOX had aired the game on its national network that they would’ve hit the jackpot.”

    Yes, there is doubt. Your opinion does not equal fact.

    “Casual fans would have definitely tuned in, as we’ve seen previously during last year’s World Cup.”

    Did you get RSVPs from them? Were they waiting in your living room bitching that they don’t pony up for FSC and were getting screwed out of this unique opportunity?

    Listen, COPS got 3M on Saturday. Fox did not miss a slam dunk. A 200 percent jump just by going to Fox is an absurd thing to bank on. Would it have done well? Sure. But you don’t know jack about TV if you actually believe the crap you are spewing.

    “They would have convinced the hard core followers of soccer in America that they are fully committed to their soccer coverage.”

    Really? Yeah, they have two soccer channels in their arsenal. Fans are really concerned about whether they are committed to the sport.

    Stop writing. Please, just stop writing. You’re a simpleton. Stop pretending that your desire to have your decision to be a soccer fan justified by someone else’s broadcast decisions is the reality of television.

    • Infrared

      June 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

      @RabbleRouser. Dude, are you fat? Why do I sense you’re a fat guy?

      • dan

        June 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

        yea he’s probably a fat bitter guy eating a cake while crying over it while he is writing his negative nancy comments.

    • CTBlues

      June 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      FOX showed Formula 1 racing this past Sunday. This is America where we only care about NASCAR and don’t even care about our own open wheel racing in Indy Car. FOX owns a racing specific channel it’s called Speed Channel. Can you explain why they are showing F1 at the same time as NASCAR, but wont show a big soccer match up against maybe some baseball games.

      • Jkm

        June 30, 2011 at 2:42 am

        Speed was showing the barrett jackson auction. They are under contract to show the race at least same day delay? I think there was some motorcycle racing as well. From what they had it seemed the best. Also I doubt that the time the race aired was competing directly with nascar. At least it didn’t by me.

  18. Adam

    June 29, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I guess Fox feels like they have to have SOME big programming on Fox Soccer, especially when the EPL and Champions League seasons have ended. If all the big games are on Fox, fans will have less of a need to subscribe to Fox Soccer.

    • ExtraMedium

      June 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

      that was espn’s strategy with espn2 years ago. i remember people being super pissed when a duke-unc game when both were in the top-5 aired on espn2 in the mid 90’s. same thing with nfl network.

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