USA-Portugal: Most-Viewed Soccer Match Ever in U.S.
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. Additional television highlights:
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 program excluding 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 total of 1,373,000 viewers and 61,691,000 minutes viewed.
Significant Television 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 percent and 109 percent (vs. 2,857,000 in 2010 and 2,048,000 in 2006), and 44 percent and 86 percent (vs. 1.8 in 2010 and 1.4 in 2006), respectively.
WatchESPN Growth Over 2010
WatchESPN has averaged 259,000 viewers in the average minute across 32 World Cup matches, which represents a six percent 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 percent increase in viewers and 167 percent in minutes through the first 32 games, averaging 759,000 viewers and 33,319,000 minutes viewed per match.
Success beyond USA Matches
In addition to Sunday's record telecast, 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, June 21 (tied with the 2006 Italy vs. Germany semifinal). 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 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: 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).
Overall, Washington, D.C., continues to lead all 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).
Upcoming ESPN World Cup Coverage
ESPN's FIFA World Cup coverage continues this week with two matches at 11:30 a.m. and two at 3:30 p.m. each day from today through the completion of Group Play on Thursday, June 26. The match for the United States (against Germany) airs on Thursday, June 26, at 11:30 a.m. (on ESPN).
ESPN's comprehensive coverage of the tournament includes all 64 matches televised live on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPN3 and WatchESPN, as well as 54 matches on ESPN DEPORTES and another 10 on ESPN Deportes+. ABC's matches will also available on WATCH ABC. Schedule.