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Broadcast of U.S. v. Panama was second highest audience for World Cup Qualifier

Jun 13, 2013, 11:51 AM EST

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More news that the sport of soccer is positively thriving in the United States – Tuesday night’s World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Panama was the second most-watched and second highest-rated FIFA World Cup qualifying or international friendly match telecast.

The 2-0 U.S. triumph at CenturyLink Field in Seattle recorded an average audience of 1.436 million viewers and was seen in 888,000 households, based on a 0.8 household U.S. rating according to Nielsen Media.

The Southern California soccer hot-bed of San Diego was once again the top market for the match telecast with a rating of 2.5, while Seattle-Takoma (2.5), Baltimore (2.1), Hartford-New Haven (1.9), and Nashville (1.9) rounded out the Top 5.

Tuesday’s viewership was bested only by the March 26th World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico, which ended in a 0-0 draw at the famed Azteca Stadium. That telecast delivered the record average audience with 2.385 million viewers and was seen in 1.644 million households, based on a 1.4 household U.S. rating.

The next date for American soccer to make itself heard is on Tuesday, June 18th when the U.S. takes on Honduras in the final World Cup Qualifying match before the summer. That match can be viewed live from Rio Tinto Stadium on ESPN or the WatchESPN app.

Here are some other broadcast numbers in recent U.S. history that show just how big the game has become stateside -

  • The 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands drew a record 24.3 million U.S. viewers (U.S. v. Ghana drew 19.4m)
  •  The 2011 Women’s World Cup Final between Japan and the U.S. drew a record 13.458 million U.S. viewers
  • The 2011 Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona drew a record 4.2 million U.S. viewers
  • The 2012 MLS match between Seattle and Portland drew 880,000 U.S. viewers (3rd largest audience)
  • The May 2012 Manchester United v. Manchester City match drew a record 1.033 million U.S. viewers
  • The 2012 European Championship Final between Italy and Spain drew drew 2.968 million U.S. viewers (2nd largest)
  1. randomhookup - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    And think if they could broadcast games so that the East Coast could watch without falling asleep…

  2. danielofthedale - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    I have always thought sports TV ratings are a little lower than the reported Nielsen numbers. I mean for all other forms of TV you nearly everyone watch at their house where as with sports its a much more communal thing where very large groups gather in public establishments to watch the games. I don’t know of a way Nielsen could calibrate for that.

    • danielofthedale - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Should say higher than Nielsen numbers not lower.

      • randomhookup - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Nielsen numbers are gathered a lot of ways … some by the box on your TV set; some by a survey users do which gathers the number of people who watched with you. I’m guessing they could apply a multiple that generally gets them in the neighborhood of how many watched, based on the nature of the event. Of course, by definition, the number is always wrong.

        I wonder what ESPN’s online numbers were?

      • joeyt360 - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        @randomhookup, but Nielsen doesn’t measure viewership in public forums like bars. In Canada, they recently switched to add bar viewing and sports basically went up 25% vs non sports programming.

  3. bigdinla - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Amazing number when you consider game 3 of NBA finals was also on.

  4. takethelongview - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    One wonders if the ratings would have been so high had ESPN not had the Mexico game on immediately prior. Just as MLS ratings on NBC spiked last year when coupled with Olympic soccer, it’s tempting to conclude that some viewers tuned in to the US game because they stayed after watching Mexico.

    I think it was a good piece of business,and probably overdue, by ESPN to pick up the rights to Mexican home games. I am not a Mexico fan by any means, but I will tune in to the other games in the Hex when given the chance, since those results affect the prospects of the US.

    • joeyt360 - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      Most people watched the Mexican game in Spanish on UniMas. On the English side, more people watched the US game than watched the Mexico game. (FYI, another 1.2 million watched the US vs Panama in Spanish.)

  5. ericsando - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Is it any wonder why NBC spent so much for the EPL rights?

  6. footballer4ever - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    No wonder at all. I applaud and admire NBC’s vision to think outside the box and to embrace world football. Other networks are complacent and play it safe instead. NBC realizes and acts upon the fact that the demographics are changing in our country and the mindset towards our football is changing even among people who would “hate” on a sport who is not owned by anyone yet it belongs to the world.

    • randomhookup - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Now if the ratings could trickle down to MLS…

  7. footballer4ever - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Well, the ratings would be better if MLS does the effort to educate our own fsns that gooing to the games is good, but to encourage them to tune to the games on tv when they don’t. Also, with the flawed nielden ratings, it’s up to us football/soccer fans to watch games other than the okd fashioned tube, but also via watch espn or nbc live apps to make us reslly count. Heck, i tune to mls matches from my tv, iphone, laptop and ipod just in case.

  8. slxc - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    The only channel that does not dare to convey Soccer (Football) is CBS, and Fox did, ABC and NBC.

  9. charliej11 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    San Diego should get an MLS franchise. Everyone says TJ this and that. Why not embrace the rivalry ? Have them play twice a year. Americans on both teams battling it out.

    There are 3 million in the San Diego area. They can support 2 teams.

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