Sunday’s match between the United States and Portugal was the highest rated soccer related ESPN broadcast ever with a rating of 9.1. Since ESPN is a paid television subscription many possible viewers are left out.
To find comparable rating you have to look at free broadcast television stations like ABC. In 2010 the second round match between Ghana and the US, broadcast on ABC, had a rating of 9.1.
This years Ghana match drew in about eleven million viewers on ESPN and about five million more on Univision, a Spanish language channel. The total of sixteen million viewers, or a rating of 7.0, was the highest, now second highest rated soccer match ever broadcast on ESPN.
Last World Cup, ESPN broadcasts of the first twenty-three games saw rating hikes of about twenty-one percent. Peaking with the ABC and Univision broadcast of the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands with nearly twenty-five million viewers.
To put the ratings and number of viewers into perspective, the average viewership of an NFL regular-season game broadcast on FOX in 2013 was just over twenty-one million viewers. This year’s NBA finals had about eighteen million viewers. The World Series averages just under fifteen million viewers a game. The Stanley Cup final between two major American markets averaged about five million viewers.
According the Major League Soccer, the top tier American soccer league, there are at least seventy million adult soccer fans in the US.
That estimate may not be far off. For this year’s World Cup, more than 154,000 tickets were sold to Americans; the second most of any country, behind host country Brazil.
Moreover, last year when Mexico played Nigeria in Houston Texans NGR stadium over 62,000 people were in attendance.
In Chicago, demand was so high more than twenty thousand people attended a downtown watch-party.
By every measureable way soccer or at least the World Cup has piqued America’s interest.
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