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Volume 24 No. 156
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ESPN Earns 4.5 Overnight For Both Of Sunday's World Cup Round Of 16 Thrillers

ESPN earned a 4.5 overnight for the Netherlands’ dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win over Mexico in the FIFA World Cup Round of 16 yesterday afternoon. ESPN also earned a 4.5 overnight for Sunday's Costa Rica-Greece late-afternoon match, which saw Costa Rica move on after penalty kicks. Those figures are tied for the fourth all-time on ESPN for any men’s World Cup match. San Diego topped all markets for ESPN’s coverage of Netherlands-Mexico with an 8.3 local rating, followed by L.A. (7.5) and S.F.-Oakland-San Jose (7.0). While overnight figures for Univision’s telecast of the matches were unavailable at presstime, Netherlands-Mexico is likely to set records on the Spanish-language network. In the L.A. market, Univision had nearly double the audience of ESPN’s telecast, drawing a 14.7 local rating for Netherlands-Mexico. ABC drew a 3.8 final rating and 6.14 million viewers for the opening Round of 16 match on Saturday afternoon, which saw Brazil move on after beating Chile in penalty kicks. That marks the best audience for a Round of 16 match that did not involve the U.S. team and third overall among all Round of 16 matches. Saturday's late-afternoon game on ABC also drew a 3.3 final rating and 5.36 million viewers, as Colombia defeated Uruguay 2-0 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). 

GROUP THINKING: ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 finished with a 2.2 final rating and 3.54 million viewers for 48 group stage matches, marking a record audience for the opening round of play. Thursday afternoon’s Germany-U.S. match finished with a 6.7 rating and 10.77 million viewers on ESPN, marking the net’s third-best audience on record for a men’s soccer match. The 6.7 rating is the second-best figure on record for a men’s match, behind only U.S.-Portugal on June 22 (9.6 rating). Meanwhile, Univision finished with its best group stage audience on record, averaging 2.9 million viewers per match. The net’s coverage of Germany-U.S. also drew 3.4 million viewers (Karp). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote Americans' "love of patriotism and the lure of an event, a spectacle, drive those ratings probably more than interest in soccer itself." However, "viewers are viewers" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/29).

LOCAL INTEREST: In N.Y., Anna Bahr wrote it is not surprising that the 10 cities with the "highest TV ratings for the World Cup in both 2010 and 2014 are big metropolitan areas that have high population densities, more internationally diverse communities, and an abundance of bars and restaurants publicizing the World Cup." DC, N.Y., Miami and S.F. "have made the top 10 list for World Cup ratings" both this year and in '10. What is "different this time around is the broader viewership across the country." Many more people are "watching in the South and in cities in the middle of the country." Oklahoma City’s metered markets "had a 143 percent increase in Cup viewership" from '10. Columbus viewership "jumped by 71 percent; and viewership in Birmingham, Ala., grew by 100 percent." The top 10 markets in '10 included Boston and Baltimore, but they both have "fallen out of that list this year." Meanwhile, Richmond, Orlando and Atlanta have "moved into the top 10" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).

KUDOS FOR ESPN'S CREW: In Boston, John Tomase writes soccer "doesn’t sound like soccer without at least one accent, be it British, Scottish or Spanish," and this year’s World Cup "has the most international sound of any ever broadcast in the U.S." ESPN's Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman "have formed a fantastic pairing." Some of the studio analysts "barely speak English, but that’s kind of the point." Their "love of the game transcends language," and the "passion of the broadcasters shines through with each crazy British colloquialism" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/30). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes ESPN's Bob Ley "speaks with the expertise of a player and a broadcaster" (DENVER POST, 6/30).

THE SOCIAL NETWORK: REUTERS' Esteban Israel reports the World Cup is "the most talked-about event in Facebook Inc's decade-long history," amassing 1 billion posts, likes and comments "in just the first half" of this year's tournament. Soccer conversation on Facebook from June 12-29 "involved 220 million people and 1 billion interactions." The World Cup is "set to break new records as the biggest social media event to date." On Saturday, "more than 31 million people put up 75 million posts, likes and comments about Brazil’s nail-biting victory over Chile" (REUTERS, 6/30).

BIRD IS THE WORD: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai noted more than 300 million tweets related to the World Cup "have been sent since the tournament started." The opening game between Brazil and Croatia "drove the most Twitter conversation so far with more than 12.2 million tweets, followed by Brazil versus‎ Mexico (8.95 million) and Germany against Portugal (8.90 million)." Argentina F Lionel Messi and Brazil F Neymar "are the most mentioned players so far on Twitter," followed by Uruguay F Luis Suarez. The "most-tweeted moment of the tournament so far" is Brazil D Marcelo‎'s own goal in the opening match, which "drew 378,085 tweets per minute" (, 6/27). The AP's Joshua Goodman reported almost 389,000 tweets "were generated in the minute after Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara's penalty shot hit the right post" in the final shot of Brazil's shootout win over Chile on Saturday. That "broke the previous mark set during this year's Super Bowl" when about 382,000 tweets were sent after Seahawks WR Percy Harvin's kickoff return for a TD (AP, 6/29).