Ranking the most-watched USWNT games on TV during 2019

Understandably, the attendance numbers for the USWNT received a substantial boost because it was a Women’s World Cup year. So it would follow that the TV viewing numbers would also receive a substantial boost because of the global tournament. TV viewing numbers were up compared to 2018, 2017 and 2016. However they were down slightly from the last Women’s World Cup year in 2015 due to a more favorable timezone for viewers in the United States (the 2015 Women’s World Cup was held in Canada).

All in all, ratings for the USWNT in 2019 were outstanding. They drew an average of 1,996,917 viewers per game over 24 matches. That’s up an astounding 560% from an average of 302,421 viewers per game over 19 games in 2018. That’s also up compared to the 378,125 per game over 16 games in 2017 and up compared to 721,450 per game over 20 games in 2016. But when compared to the concurrent year in the previous cycle, the ratings took a slight dip. The ratings in 2015 were 2,522,400 viewers per game over 25 games. The drop from 2,522,400 in 2015 to 1,996,917 this year is a decline of 20%. While it may have been a drop, drawing nearly 2 million viewers per game is still a remarkable achievement and something that US Soccer and the TV partners should be quite happy about.

Here’s the full list of the English language TV ratings for the USWNT in 2019:

1. 7/7/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. Netherlands* – FOX – 13,990,000
2. 7/2/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. England* – FOX – 7,101,000
3. 6/28/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA @ France – FOX – 6,124,000
4. 6/16/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. Chile* – FOX – 5,324,000
5. 6/20/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. Sweden* – FOX – 3,741,000
6. 6/24/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. Spain* – FS1 – 3,145,000
7. 6/11/19 – Women’s World Cup – USA vs. Thailand* – FOX – 2,626,000
8. 3/2/19 – She Believes Cup – USA vs. England – FOX – 758,000
9. 5/12/19 – Friendly – USA vs. South Africa – FOX – 705,000
10. 5/26/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Mexico – ESPN – 615,000
11. 4/7/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Belgium – ESPN2 – 439,000
12. 9/3/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Portugal – ESPN2 – 342,000
13. 10/6/19 – Friendly – USA vs. South Korea – ESPN – 319,000
14. 8/3/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Republic of Ireland – ESPN2 – 319,000
15. 2/27/19 – She Believes Cup – USA vs. Japan – FS1 – 283,000
16. 3/5/19 – She Believes Cup – USA vs. Brazil – FS1 – 278,000
17. 11/10/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Costa Rica – ESPN2 – 273,000
18. 11/7/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Sweden – FS1 – 268,000
19. 5/16/19 – Friendly – USA vs. New Zealand – ESPN2 – 261,000
20. 8/29/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Portugal – FS1 – 224,000
21. 1/19/19 – Friendly – USA @ France – FS1 – 214,000
22. 4/4/19 – Friendly – USA vs. Australia – FS1 – 205,000
23. 1/22/19 – Friendly – USA @ Spain – ESPN2 – 200,000
24. 10/3/19 – Friendly – USA vs. South Korea – FS1 – 172,000

Total Viewership: 47,926,000
Average Viewership: 1,996,917

*denotes game played at a neutral site

The first thing that jumps off the page is every game at the Women’s World Cup drawing at least 2.5 million viewers. A big reason for that is FOX Sports making the wise decision to air six of the seven games the team played in France on over the air big FOX. That’s a step better than the last tournament in 2015 when only five of the seven games were shown on network TV.

Another big positive was the final against the Netherlands drawing over 10 million viewers, which is only the second time a WNT game has hit that mark since 2014 (the MNT has four such games, all at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014). While that is down from the whopping 25 million that the final in Vancouver drew four years ago, there are a few factors that need to be taken into account. Again, the time zone difference meant a less favorable kickoff time for many Americans (especially on the West Coast). There’s also the fact that the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final was a rematch of the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final against Japan, while the 2019 final was against the Netherlands.

One disappointing note that comes a bit of a surprise was the apparent lack of interest in the team both before and after the Women’s World Cup. Of the ten games the WNT played prior to departing for France, only two drew over 500,000 viewers (both of which aired on big FOX). Taking it a step further only one game that aired on cable cracked the 300,000 viewer mark. The story was almost the same for after the team won the tournament. Of the seven games they played after coming home none of them surpassed 350,000 viewers with one of them even failing to crack 175,000.

But friendly numbers aside, 2019 was still a resounding success for the USWNT on the field, in the stands, and on the TV. While the TV ratings weren’t quite what they were in 2015 they were still excellent and with the Olympics coming up in Tokyo next summer it’s another opportunity for the WNT to draw big numbers on a big stage.

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