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USA–Portugal is the most viewed soccer match ever in US, says ESPN
MUMBAI: ESPN’s telecast of the United States’ 2–2 tie against Portugal in the 2014 Fifa World Cup on Sunday, June 22 is the most-viewed soccer match in the United States ever, across all networks, averaging 18,220,000 viewers based on a 9.6 HH US rating.
It surpassed the previous high of 17,975,000 viewers for the 1999 Women’s World Cup final (USA vs China) on ABC.
The telecast peaked from 7:30 to 8 p.m. ET with an average of 22,961,000 viewers and an 11.9 HH US rating. The match is ESPN’s most-viewed programme excluding the NFL and college football telecasts.
While Sunday’s 9.6 HH US rating is the highest-rated men’s soccer telecast ever (topping a 9.5 for Italy vs Brazil in the 1994 final), it is the second highest-rated soccer match overall behind an 11.4 HH US rating for 1999 Women’s World Cup final (USA vs China) on ABC.
The first 2014 Fifa World Cup match involving the United States (a 2–1 victory over Ghana) averaged 11,093,000 viewers and a 6.3 HH US rating, making it the highest-rated and most-viewed men’s soccer match on ESPN or ESPN2 on record at the time.
In addition to setting a television viewership record, Sunday’s match also set product records on WatchESPN with a 490,000 average minute audience, and a total of 1,373,000 viewers and 61,691,000 minutes viewed.
Significant TV viewership increases over 2010 and 2006
Overall, ESPN’s 2014 World Cup coverage is posting significant viewership increases over 2010 and 2006. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC have combined to average 4,273,000 viewers and a 2.6 HH US rating through the first 32 matches, marking increases of 50 per cent and 109 per cent (vs 2,857,000 in 2010 and 2,048,000 in 2006), and 44 per cent and 86 per cent (vs 1.8 in 2010 and 1.4 in 2006) respectively.
Moreover, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC have posted significant audience increases in every key people and male demographic, highlighted by double-digit growth in the 18–34, 18–49 and 25–54 categories.
WatchESPN growth over 2010
WatchESPN has averaged 259,000 viewers in the average minute across 32 World Cup matches, which represents a six per cent lift over the ESPN Networks’ English-language TV audience for a total of 4,533,000 viewers across TV and WatchESPN.
In addition, WatchESPN has posted a 158 per cent increase in viewers and 167 per cent in minutes through the first 32 games, averaging 759,000 viewers and 33,319,000 minutes viewed per match.
Success beyond USA matches
Additionally, ESPN tied the record for the highest-rated World Cup match not involving the United States on ESPN or ESPN2, averaging a 3.4 US HH rating and 5,735,000 viewers for Germany vs Ghana on Saturday, 21 June (tied with the 2006 Italy vs Germany semi-final). Overall, the 2014 World Cup coverage has delivered six of the highest-rated and most-viewed Group Play matches not involving a United States team on ESPN and ESPN2.
Washington, D.C. led all the markets for ESPN’s USA vs Portugal telecast with a 13.3 rating, followed by Columbus (12.6), New York (12.5), Boston (11.5), Hartford/New Haven (11.3), Providence (11.2), Atlanta (11.1), Baltimore (11.0), Norfolk (10.5), Orlando (10.5) and Sacramento (10.5).
Eighteen markets recorded their highest overnight rating for a World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2, including seven that were among the top 10 largest for the telecast: Columbus, Boston, Hartford/New Haven, Providence, Atlanta, Baltimore and Sacramento. The additional 11, ordered by highest rating, are: Kansas City (10.1), Dayton (8.9), St. Louis (8.7), Jacksonville (8.4), Tampa/St. Petersburg (8.3), Nashville (7.8), Greenville (7.6), Greensboro (7.5), Memphis (7.5), Pittsburgh (6.9) and Birmingham (5.8).
On the whole, Washington, D.C. continues to lead all the markets for matches on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC through the first 32 games with a 5.0 average rating, followed by New York (4.3), San Francisco (4.1), Orlando (3.8), Los Angeles (3.7), Hartford/New Haven (3.7), Atlanta (3.6), San Diego (3.5), Boston (3.5), West Palm Beach (3.5) and Richmond (3.5).