World Cup 2010: USA-England Telecast Attracts 6% of U.S. Households

The opening weekend of the 2010 FIFA World Cup saw huge ratings in the U.S., highlighted by the USA-England showdown on Saturday. The USA opener on ABC, which resulted in a 1-1 tie, drew the largest audience for a U.S. Men’s National match since the 1994 World Cup (hosted by the U.S.), with 6.1% of U.S. households tuned in to the telecast.

The two-hour match averaged a 7.3 household rating, 8.391 million households, and 12.956 million total viewers; the three-hour telecast — including one-hour of pre-match coverage — delivered a 6.1 household rating, 7.034 million households, and 10.763 million viewers.

Through eight matches over the weekend, ESPN and ABC averaged 3,000,000 households and 4,247,000 viewers – up 75% and 80%, respectively, versus the first eight games of the 2006 World Cup (1,718,000 households and 2,363,000 viewers in ’06).

The U.S.-England telecast ranks fifth all-time behind the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, the 1994 Final (Brazil-Italy), a 1994 round of 16 game (USA-Brazil), and the 2006 Final (Italy-France), all of which aired on ABC. The 1999 Women’s World Cup final between the USA and China remains the all-time highest-rated Cup game on U.S. TV, punching in at 11.4% of U.S. households.

Univision’s Spanish-language broadcast of the World Cup also brought in big numbers, its overall opening-day coverage nearly doubling the average ratings for the 2006 Cup. The network averaged 5.4 million total viewers for the opening match, a 1-1 draw between Mexico and host nation South Africa. ESPN attracted an additional 2.6 million viewers during the match. Overall, Univision averaged 4 million total viewers for the opening day on Friday.

In total, the first five matches of the World Cup averaged about 8.1 million viewers for the combined English- and Spanish-language broadcasts, up from 4.5 million in 2006.

Streaming numbers also skyrocketed to record highs, as nearly 1.3 million viewers viewed live and replayed World Cup matches on ESPN3.com over the first three days of the tournament, generating 73.6 million minutes of viewing (almost an hour per viewer). The number of minutes viewed in the opening three days is almost as many as ESPN3.com had for the entire month of June 2009. Univision said its UnivisionFutbol.com’s free-live-streaming offer also saw record results.

World Cup content on ESPN.com – including ESPN Soccernet.com and ESPN Deportes.com – delivered 13.2 million visits and 47.4 million page views over the first three days of the tournament (Fri.–Sun.), while users have spent an average of 10 minutes per visit engaging with World Cup content. Mobile platforms also generated 761,000 video views in those days.

ESPN/ABC World Cup Ratings (thru 8 matches)

Fri., June 11:

  • South Africa-Mexico (ESPN, 10 a.m.) — 2.2 household coverage rating, 2.151 million HHs, 2.856 million viewers
  • Uruguay-France (ESPN, 2:30 p.m.) — 2.1 rating, 2.056 HHs, 2.950 viewers

Sat., June 12:

  • South Korea-Greece (ESPN, 7:30 a.m.) — 1.6 rating, 1.590 HHs, 1.997 viewers
  • Argentina-Nigeria (ESPN, 9:21 a.m.) — 2.8 rating, 2.820 HHs, 3.725 viewers
  • U.S.-England (ABC, 2:30 p.m.) — 7.3 (U.S.) rating, 8.391 HHs, 12.956 viewers

Sun., June 13:

  • Algeria-Slovenia (ESPN, 7:30 a.m.) — 1.3 rating, 1.303 HHs, 1.569 viewers
  • Serbia-Ghana (ESPN, 10 a.m.) — 2.3 rating, 2.248 HHs, 3.002 viewers
  • Germany-Australia (ABC, 2:30 p.m.) — 2.8 (U.S.) rating, 3.270 HHs, 4.657 viewers