World Cup: By the Numbers

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting theory the 2010 World Cup is grabbing a large portion of the American sports pie.  Americans are discussing the World Cup around the office, media outlets are carrying increasing coverage and bars are filling at odd hours nationwide for matches involving all teams.  The ratings complete the story.

We reported earlier on the numbers from the early parts of the tournament.  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” .

The ratings have continued, with Reuters reporting that through the first 14 matches of the World Cup, ESPN and ABC have delivered an average crowd of 3.35 million viewers, marking a 64% increase from the same period in 2006, when the networks drew 2.9 million fans.  Univision has shown similar success across all platforms, with Reuters further reporting that through June 15 had tracked 6 million visits in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, double its 2006 traffic. The site averaged 250,000 unique viewers during live matches, peaking with 130,000 concurrent users during the Brazil-North Korea match.

Excellent ratings have continued during weekday games, with almost 4 million viewers watching the USA/Slovenia match on Friday morning. The broadcast shattered records for and with almost 1 million viewers spending more than 45 minutes on the site during the early broadcast.

These numbers are excellent and promise to increase as the tournament moves forward.  A USA run through the tournament would significantly increase ratings and ESPN is likely salivating at the possibility of a USA weekend match should the Americans qualify for the round of 16.  Regardless, ESPN will expect great ratings as the tournament moves into the final stages.