World Cup TV ratings far exceeding 2006 numbers

It has become increasingly clear that that there is a greater buzz in the United States for this World Cup than for any other previous edition.

Now there is evidence to prove it. Television ratings here for the matches from South Africa are double what they were for the event held four years ago in Germany.

ESPN announced that the first five games of the 2010 World Cup on the Disney family of networks have averaged more than a 100 percent ratings increase over the first five matches from the 2006 event.

The hype and build-up for the June 12 Group C opener between the USA and England also resulted in a record audience on ABC. The match was the most-viewed first-round World Cup telecast ever aired in the USA with a 7.3 rating and 12.9 million viewers. Including the pre-game show, it was also the fifth most watched soccer match ever on ABC. Univision drew an additional 3.8 million fans for the Spanish-language broadcast of the same game.

The combined audience for the USA vs. England match outdid Game Four of the NBA Finals and more than doubled the decisive Stanley Cup hockey game that saw the Chicago Blackhawks become NHL champs.

Audiences for Spanish-language World Cup broadcasts on Univision have also doubled after two games of South Africa 2010. That is skewed by the fact that Mexico featured in the inaugural match.

The 5.4 million viewers for the game between Mexico and South Africa on Univision made the event the most watched program in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Sacramento. It was Univision's second-most watched World Cup game since 1994, after the Mexico vs. Argentina second round match in 2006, which pulled in 6.7 million.

ESPN’s broadcast of the inaugural match pulled in 2.9 million viewers. ESPN’s highest rated match thus far was Argentina’s victory over Nigeria on Saturday which drew 3.7 million.

It’s worth noting that the above numbers do not factor in fans watching online and via mobile phone as well as fans watching at bars and viewing parties across the country.


HIGHEST RATED SOCCER MATCHES ON ABC:

#1 - 1999 Women’s World Cup Final: USA vs. China (18 million viewers)

#2 - 1994 World Cup Final: Italy vs. Brazil (14.5 million viewers)

#3 - 1994 Round of 16: USA vs. Brazil (13.7 million viewers)

#4 - 2006 World Cup Final: Italy vs. France (12.0 million viewers)

#5 - 2010 Group Stage: USA vs. England (10.8 million viewers)

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