According to Nielsen, the US national team's dramatic Round-of-16 match against Belgium on Thursday was the highest-rated World Cup match ever shown on ESPN or ESPN2. The game earned a 9.8 average rating, better than any previous game in the tournament. It also beat the US-Ghana game from 2010, which had a 9.1 rating on ABC, a broadcast network, and was played on a Saturday afternoon.
Only two games on ABC (the 1994 final and the 1994 game between US and Brazil) outrated Tuesday night's telecast. The coverage peaked between 5:45 and 6 pm ET (the final 15 minutes of regulation), when the game hit a 14.1 rating. ESPN's streaming platform, WatchESPN, peaked at 1.5 million viewers during the game while averaging 3.5 million viewers.
The game averaged 16.5 million viewers on the network, making it the second most viewed game on the network ever behind the USA-Portugal game.
Univision had 5.1 million viewers and 1.8 million unique users on their streaming platform.
Only ABC's telecasts of 1994 World Cup final & USA-Brazil round of 16 match had higher overnight rating than USA-Belgium on ESPN— ESPN Research (@ESPNResearch) July 2, 2014
USA-Belgium was viewed by 16.5MM viewers in the avg minute on ESPN; 2nd most-viewed men's soccer match ever in US (behind only USA-Portugal)— ESPN Research (@ESPNResearch) July 2, 2014
ESPN: USA-Belgium averaged 16.491 million viewers and a 9.8 rating.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 2, 2014
20 markets had their highest-rated men’s World Cup match on record, all rounds, all ESPN nets for US-Belgium— Mike Humes (@MikeHumesESPN) July 2, 2014
Univision’s coverage of the US- Belgium match had 5.1 million total viewers. Net says there was 1.8M streaming digitally.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) July 2, 2014