SBD/July 15, 2014/Media

ESPN, Univision Both See Record Audience For World Cup Final, Entire Tourney

ESPN and Univision delivered record FIFA World Cup audiences on U.S. TV in ’14, which was the last iteration for both networks before Fox Sports and Telemundo assume coverage for the ’18 and ’22 events. English-language coverage across ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 averaged a 2.8 final rating and 4.56 million viewers for 64 matches, up sharply from a 2.1 rating and 3.27 million viewers in ’10, when matches generally aired earlier in the morning from South Africa. DC led all markets with a 4.9 local rating for the 64 matches, followed by N.Y. (4.6) and S.F.-Oakland-San Jose (4.4). Meanwhile, Univision averaged 3.5 million viewers for its matches, outperforming ’10 coverage by 34%. Univision set new audience records during each round of the World Cup.

AVERAGE VIEWERSHIP FOR COMPLETE FIFA WORLD CUP COVERAGE
YEAR
LOCATION
ESPN/ABC/ESPN2 (000)
UNIVISION (000)
'14
Brazil
4,557
3,500
'10
South Africa
3,273
2,600
'06
Germany
2,321
2,100
'02
Japan/South Korea
1,043
987
'98
France
1,222
1,300
'94
U.S.
2,801
1,400
       

DEUTSCHE MARKS: ABC earned a 9.1 final rating and 17.324 million viewers for Germany’s fourth World Cup win on Sunday from 3:00-5:44pm ET, marking the most-viewed World Cup final ever on U.S. TV and the third-best soccer audience ever. The Germany-Argentina match ranks behind only ESPN’s U.S.-Portugal group stage match (18.22 million viewers) and ABC’s U.S.-China Women’s World Cup Final in ’99 (17.98 million viewers). ABC earned an 8.1 rating and 15.55 million viewers for the Spain-Netherlands final in ’10, which aired at a similar time. Univision delivered another 9.2 million viewers for the Germany-Argentina match, marking a record World Cup final audience for the net. Spain-Netherlands in ’10 drew 8.82 million viewers to Univision (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

VIEWERSHIP FOR SELECT RECENT SPORTING EVENTS ON U.S. TV
EVENT
NET
RAT.
VIEWERS (000)
'14 BCS Nat'l Championship: Florida State-Auburn
ESPN
14.4
25,572
'14 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: UConn-Kentucky
CBS
12.4
21,200
'14 Preakness Stakes (California Chrome Triple Crown attempt)
NBC
12.0
20,600
'14 Rose Bowl: Michigan State-Stanford
ESPN
10.2
18,636
'14 FIFA World Cup Final: Germany-Argentina
ABC
9.1
17,324
'14 NBA Finals: Spurs-Heat (5 games)
ABC
9.3
15,524
'14 Kentucky Derby
NBC
9.4
15,300
'13 World Series: Red Sox-Cardinals (6 games)
Fox
8.9
14,900
'14 Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma-Alabama
ESPN
6.7
11,400
'14 NFL Pro Bowl
NBC
6.6
11,378
'14 Fiesta Bowl: UCF-Baylor
ESPN
6.6
11,304
'14 Masters: Final Round
CBS
6.8
10,970
'14 NHL Final: Kings-Rangers (5 games)
NBC/NBCSN
3.0
5,001
       

PARTY IN THE U.S.A.: VARIETY's Rick Kissell wrote audience numbers reflect that Americans "remained interested" in the World Cup even after the U.S. team was eliminated in the Round of 16 (VARIETY.com, 7/14). In L.A., Meg James writes the Spanish-language audience "helped boost viewership" of the final "to record heights." However, among English-language viewers, the U.S.-Portugal group stage match "was slightly more popular." That contest "attracted 18.2 million viewers to ESPN; and another 6.5 million people watched on Univision" (L.A. TIMES, 7/15). The AP's David Bauder wrote the final capped a tournament that "exceeded expectations for interest on both ESPN and Univision." The tournament as a whole also "exceeded expectations for ESPN, and surprised" ESPN Senior VP/Programming Scott Guglielmino in the "way it permeated U.S. culture as no World Cup has before" (AP, 7/14). 

GOING OUT ON TOP: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Tim Baysinger wrote as a "lame-duck broadcaster ... ESPN could have mailed in this year’s World Cup." Instead, the network "went out with a bang, receiving high marks for its coverage over the past month." ESPN "set a standard that Fox will be hard-pressed to match" when it takes over the rights. With the Copa America in '16 and the Confederations Cup in '17, the "next three years will give us a glimpse" into how Fox will handle the '18 World Cup in Russia (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 7/14).

WE THE NORTH: Approximately 30.7 million Canadians tuned in at some point during the World Cup, which represents 89% of the country's population. Of that total, 6.6 million watched at least part of a game online. An average of 4.93 million watched Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina on TV, making it the most-watched match of the tournament and the most-watched Word Cup final ever on the net, edging the '10 mark for Spain-Netherlands (CBC). 

SOCIALLY SPEAKING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Loretta Chao noted Brazil "placed fourth in the World Cup," but it was a "clear number one in terms of activity" on Facebook. Four of the top 10 "most talked about players were Brazilian," with F Neymar "in the lead." He was followed by Argentina F Lionel Messi, Portugal F Cristiano Ronaldo, Uruguay F Luis Suárez and Brazil D David Luiz. Neymar also "gained 14.9 million fans during the World Cup, the most of all the players." Messi, often "pitted against him as part of Brazil’s rivalry with Argentina, gained only 5.8 million fans" (WSJ.com, 7/14). In San Jose, Patrick May notes the final was the "most-discussed sports event of all time," and the "record-smashing numbers reflect a global population increasingly connected by social media." Social media consultant and socialmedia.biz Founder J.D. Lasica said, "This tells me that social media has become mainstream to the degree that we don't even think about doing it because it's now part of our day-to-day habit." He said with the World Cup, "everyone wants to be part of this story and participate on some level, and social media let you feel like you're part of something bigger" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/15).

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Media, FIFA World Cup, ESPN, Univision

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