Women’s World Cup ratings this summer were always going to face an uphill climb in the United States. Despite record TV viewing numbers in the past, the simple location of this year’s tournament made those feats hard to match. Kickoff times are playing a huge role in the viewership of games. As a result, ratings are down a significant margin in this Women’s World Cup.
After 36 games, the average Women’s World Cup viewership was 672,000. By comparison, the 2019 Women’s World Cup averaged just under 1 million at 968,000. That represents a 36% dropoff in average viewership between the two tournaments, according to Sports TV Ratings expert Robert Seidman.
Even worse, the 2023 figure includes out-of-home viewing in pubs, restaurants or general viewing parties. Specifically in-home viewing is 598,000. On the other hand, the 2019 figure of 968,000 does not include out-of-home viewing. That is a 38% decrease in average viewership.
Again, the main culprit has been the kickoff times. The Women’s World Cup TV schedule lays out every game, and it is clearly not ideal for Americans. Using Eastern Time Zone as the standard, games in the group stage kicked off between 10 p.m. and 8 in the morning. The majority of games were in that 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. range. Of course, that is around 6 p.m. on the east coast of Australia. Therefore, it is a sensible time, as Australia and New Zealand are the host nations.
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Women’s World Cup ratings still strong at certain points
The USWNT is always a major draw, and that has not changed in 2023. In fact, the World Cup Final rematch between the USWNT and the Netherlands scored just under 8 million people between FOX and Telemundo. It is the most-watched group stage game for a Women’s World Cup in the United States. The opening game against Vietnam scored over 5 million viewers on FOX alone.
Yet, while these numbers are fantastic given their time slot and the day of the week they happened, it does shed light that the rest of the games are not pulling in ample viewers. Again, the kickoff times are not kind to FOX and Telemundo broadcasting these games. People are severely less inclined to stay up well into the night to watch games they have no stake in.
Even the 0-0 draw against Portugal, which kicked off at 3 a.m. ET, only scored 1.35 million viewers. To be fair, though, that is best audience FOX has ever had for that time slot. If FOX wants to build on its current ratings, it surely hopes the USWNT can advance further in the Women’s World Cup. However, based on current form, the USWNT may not be the favorite to three-peat. That would be bad news for FOX’s ratings.
PHOTO: IMAGO & ZUMA Wire
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