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Univision and ESPN combined to draw just under 16 million viewers for the U.S.-Ghana FIFA World Cup group stage match on Monday night, with both networks setting new records. Univision averaged 4.8 million viewers for the game, marking the Spanish-language net’s most-viewed World Cup game ever involving the U.S. team. Univision’s audience was 17% higher than its average for the U.S.-England match in ’10, which aired on a Saturday afternoon. Univision during the match from 6:00-8:00pm ET was the top-rated over-the-air network in L.A., N.Y., Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, S.F.-Oakland-San Jose, Phoenix and Sacramento. Univision’s viewership for the game also out-delivered ESPN in L.A., Miami-Ft. Lauderdale and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Meanwhile, ESPN averaged 11.09 million viewers for U.S.-Ghana, marking the net’s best audience on record for a men’s soccer match. ESPN’s top soccer audience overall remains the ’11 Women’s World Cup Final, drawing 3.46 million viewers for the Japan-U.S. game. U.S.-Ghana also delivered ESPN its best audience for any telecast since the Jan. 6 BCS National Championship. For the complete tournament through Monday’s matches, Univision is seeing a 48% viewership increase compared to the ’10 World Cup from South Africa, while ABC/ESPN/ESPN2’s viewership is up 23%. ESPN also has seen the net’s four most-viewed group play matches not involving the U.S. on record. DC leads ABC/ESPN/ESPN2’s coverage through 14 matches with a 5.0 local rating, followed by S.F. (4.4) and N.Y. (4.1) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Keach Hagey writes under the header, "World Cup Audience In The U.S. Is Growing" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/18). SNY's Chris Carlin said of U.S.-Ghana, "There are not many country-unifying moments anymore, and that was one of them. I give people a lot of credit because it's not a mainstream sport in this country, but there were a lot of people paying attention" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 6/17). But ESPN’s Mike Greenberg asks of the viewership numbers for U.S.-Ghana: “Is this soccer or is this patriotism? Did we watch like crazy on Monday because we just like getting together and watching something that is a communal, American event? Or does this really demonstrate -- as a lot of people in the soccer world are hoping for/telling you -- that there is really a rising tide here?” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/18).
ALL ABOARD! The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes under the header, "We Are All U.S. Soccer Fans Again." Futterman: "Forgive yourself if you are a late arrival onto the U.S. Soccer bandwagon." U.S. players are "poised to suck up some of the U.S. sports oxygen for which they've waited four years in a country still trying to figure out the intricacies of the offside rule." Scratch the "surface of this U.S. team, and it has plenty of characteristics that, win-or-lose, can make that embrace well worth it" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/18).
FUNNY BUSINESS: The late-night shows also welcomed fans onto the U.S. bandwagon, although with a slightly sarcastic edge. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert opened his broadcast last night wearing a USA scarf and Nike goalie gloves and chanting, "USA! Ole, ole, ole!" He said, "This a huge day for America's sports fan, who have been excited about the World Cup ever since they noticed it was happening, which was shortly after the NBA Finals ended on Sunday." Colbert: "Team USA's Clint Dempsey stunned Ghana with a goal in the opening 29 seconds, which is good because most Americans' attention span for soccer is 30 seconds" ("The Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 6/17). NBC's Jimmy Fallon said, "USA won. They did it. They did the impossible, getting Americans to watch soccer." He then proceeded to "introduce" viewers to several U.S. players. He said in addition to playing for Sporting KC in MLS, MF Graham Zusi's "other job is being a model on covers of novels that your mom reads," while F Aron Johannsson's hobbies are "reading, swimming and destroying you with his mind" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 6/17). CBS' David Letterman asked, "Are you watching the World Cup? No you're not. Soccer is one of those things that the rest of the world cares more about than we do." He later said, "This may be disappointing to soccer purists, but this is as close as we can come to actual soccer action from the World Cup.” The broadcast aired a segment called “World Cup Highlight Simulation,” which featured video of a turtle running into a soccer ball as ESPN’s Ian Darke’s called D John Brooks’ game-winning goal against Ghana (“Late Show,” CBS, 6/17).
WatchESPN drew a record audience for any event on the digital platform for Monday's U.S.-Ghana FIFA World Cup match, as 1.4 million unique viewers watched the action. Germany-Portugal earlier in the day drew 1.1 million unique viewers, which ranks No. 2 all-time. Monday was WatchESPN best day ever with 2.7 million devices consuming 191 million minutes of World Cup action. It also marked the third day since the start of the World Cup that WatchESPN has set a new daily record. Meanwhile, the first five days of the World Cup marked Univision Digital’s five most-visited days ever. Monday was Univision Digital’s top day for traffic on record with 8.0 million visits. Germany-Portugal was actually Univision’s top digital stream with 2.0 million viewers, ahead of the 1.7 million views for U.S.-Ghana. The Univision Deportes app also continues to rank among the top five free sports apps since the start of the World Cup in both the Google Play and Apple app stores (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). VARIETY's Todd Spangler reports Germany-Portugal is second only to last Friday's Mexico-Cameroon match for Univision, which generated 2.8 million views. That set a "record for a U.S. sporting event," topping the previous high of 2.1 million online viewers for NBC’s USA-Canada men's hockey semifinal game from the Sochi Olympics. The World Cup has "already broken the record for peak amount of online-video streaming bandwidth as delivered by Akamai Technologies." Germany-Portugal "drove a peak of 4.3 terabits per second of streaming video on Akamai’s content-delivery network, blowing past the previous high of 3.5 Tbps" for the U.S.-Canada hockey game. The streaming-video peak for U.S.-Ghana "came in at 3.2 Tbps, behind last Friday’s 3.4 Tbps for the Spain-Netherlands contest" (VARIETY.com, 6/17).
SOCIAL SECURITY: The U.S.-Ghana match topped Nielsen Media’s Twitter TV ratings for sports events on Monday with 3.1 million tweets written by 1.1 million unique authors. Those tweets were seen by a unique audience of 11.2 million people, generating 256.8 million Twitter TV impressions. The No. 2 sports event on Monday was Germany-Portugal, with 1.2 million tweets for a unique audience of 7.9 million people. By comparison, Mets-Cardinals ranked No. 4 with 22,000 tweets for unique audience of 943,000 people. Facebook saw 10 million users have more than 15 million interactions on the social media platform related to U.S.-Ghana on Monday. Males 25-34 were the top demo for the interaction, with U.S. D John Brooks’ game-winning goal being the most-social moment (Karp).
The Sharks' local TV contract with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area is “not acceptable to them” and it could “affect the team's long-term ability to stay in San Jose and the Bay Area,” according to Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has taken the “extraordinary step of personally intervening in the matter.” Bettman has “contacted high-level honchos” at Comcast's corporate offices in Philadelphia to "see if the deal can be reworked.” The current deal yields the Sharks $7M per season, and it has “14 more seasons to run.” Former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison was the “man who signed off on the deal” in ‘09, one year before he “stepped away” from the job. Current CEO John Tortora in an e-mail wrote Comcast has been "an excellent partner for the Sharks locally." He also “confirmed that the Sharks are attempting to alter their agreement.” Tortora added the RSN “expressed a willingness to work with us in finding a creative solution that generates the appropriate value proposition for both sides." Purdy writes the decision to "award an outdoor game to the Bay Area next season, which will soon be announced at either AT&T Park or Levi's Stadium, could be a bone thrown out to Comcast in hopes of currying favor” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/18).
PARTING WAYS: In San Jose, David Pollak reports Sharks TV analyst Drew Remenda “won't be returning to his spot in the broadcast booth next season” after 13 seasons with the club. Remenda yesterday said, "They decided not to renew my contract. It wasn't because of anything I did or anything wrong. It was explained to me they wanted to take the broadcast in a different direction. Honestly, we parted amicably." Pollak notes Remenda was “popular with fans” and had a “league-wide following thanks to satellite packages that carried NHL games to outside markets” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/18).
The CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" announcer Bob Cole said that he is "excited about the prospect of coming back for another season of calling NHL games when Rogers takes over control of the airwaves," according to Curtis Rush of the TORONTO STAR. Cole "admits he was 'sad' to learn he would not be part of the coverage" of the CBC's Stanley Cup Final. He said that he "accepts the criticism from some fans that he has misidentified players from time to time, but resolves to do better." Asked if he thought about retiring after the '13-14 season, Cole said, “I didn’t think about retiring. I had no idea what CBC wanted. I didn’t seem to be all that comfortable (with retiring). That was before the announcement was made that they (CBC) are not going to be around anyway. Scott Moore (president of Sportsnet and NHL Hockey for Rogers) called and we began talking and I was delighted we did." Cole added of how long he will continue to call games, "Vin Scully and I are rolling along (laughs). I’ve never thought about it, you know? A good friend of mine in the sports business said anytime anyone asks you, just say, ‘I’m going to keep doing this until I get it right.’ I hope forever, but you know, it’s not going to happen, but to answer your question, no, I have not planned at any time for my retirement. I just enjoy it so much." Cole, when asked if he critiques his broadcasts, said, "I do air checks every now and then. ... I see that I could have done a little better there. Maybe I should do more" (THESTAR.com, 6/17).
WELCOME TO THE TEAM: Rogers yesterday announced Elliotte Friedman and Scott Oake will be joining its NHL broadcast team. Friedman, continuing in his role as an insider and reporter, makes his Sportsnet TV debut on July 1. Oake will continue to appear on "HNIC" every Saturday, as well as across national NHL broadcasts on Rogers as a reporter, starting this fall (Rogers).
ESPN in May again topped the monthly comScore multiplatform rankings of the most-trafficked U.S. sports sites, posting its eighth win in the last nine months and the fourth-highest total in the history of the category with 68.005 million unique users. The total trails just three other ESPN totals posted within the last year. The rest of the list essentially held form compared to other recent months, but many of the leaders showed strong audience increases from the same month in '13, due in part to surging mobile traffic. The NFL in particular saw a seismic lift, jumping from 13.5 million unique users in May '13 and 22.8 million uniques in April this year to 31.6 million uniques last month. That was driven by the shift of this year's NFL Draft to May 8-10. The battle for the second position on the list remains tight as Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports and Bleacher Report-Turner Sports were again separated by less than 1 million unique users in May. ESPN, as is custom, led in consumption metrics with an average of 85.6 million users per user during the month.
RANK SITEUNIQUES (000) 1) ESPN68,005 2) Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network *56,308 3) Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network **55,398 4) FoxSports.com on MSN41,333 5) USA Today Sports Media Group ***40,145 6) MLB36,003 7) NFL Internet Group31,600 8) SB Nation28,803 9) Sporting News Media/Perform Sports27,612 10) CBS Sports26,483 11) Sports Illustrated sites^19,960 12) NHL Network12,856 13) Deadspin.com11,942 14) Active.com sites10,615 15) CineSport9,914