World Cup in South Africa: Monitoring the Coverage

The opening game of the 2010 World Cup (played before breakfast on the West Coast), averaged 5.4 million viewers on Univision and 2.6 million on ESPN. The Univision broadcast was the number 1 program of the day in more than five US Cities.  The USA/England game on ABC averaged just under 13 million viewers and was the fifth most watched soccer match in ABC history.  For purposes of comparison, game 4 of the NBA finals on ABC achieved an estimated 16 million viewers on Thursday night, making it far and away the most highly viewed show of the week.  Neither number factors in “mass audiences” .

We have found the ESPN coverage to be outstanding.  Chris Fowler and Bob Ley have turned in outstanding studio host performances throughout the coverage.  The array of players and coaches manning the studios have provided solid insight.  The ESPN team did suffer an embarrassing performance during the opening match when neither broadcaster showed an accurate understanding of the properly disallowed Mexican goal in the first half.  Both broadcasters (including the usally excellent Martin Tyler) lambasted the referees for what was a correct call.

Mainstream media of the Cup has been impressive, with local outlets providing coverage of both the USA/England match and the turnout at local bars and clubs.  Major outlets such as CNNSI and USA Today have continued to provide throrough coverage including analysis of footaball write Peter King (which we have found very well done).  His excellent column is right here.  Newspapers from around the country have ramped out their coverage of the matches using a solid combination of wire reports and local coverage.