World Cup ratings have always been quite pitiful in the U.S. when compared percentage wise to the rest of the world. It was announced that the England vs USA match aired on ABC (the game thought to draw the potential highest ratings in America) had a rating of about 7.2 percent, or around 13 million viewers. According the book Soccernomics which we have mentioned several times in the last week, a show needs a rating of about 4.0 to stay on the air. It is noted, another 4.1 million people in the U.S. watched the England vs USA match on Univision. The combined total of 17.1 million viewers in the U.S. was higher than the number of people than each of the first four of the NBA finals games (but not higher than game 5 which had 18.6 million viewers).
The England vs US match ranked #5 all time in World Cup viewing audience in the U.S., falling just behind the legendary Brazil vs USA match on July 4th, 1994, and three World Cup finals. It is actually the 1999 Women’s World Cup match that still holds the highest rating ever for a soccer match with 18 million viewers. This could possibly be broken this year if the U.S. makes a good run into the knockout stages.
The viewership numbers in England, were quite different, with about 20 million people viewing the match between the U.S. and England, though a large number of people missed out England’s goal thanks to a snafu by ITV. While it is clear the U.S. has not caught up to the percentage of viewers in other countries, the ESPN broadcast of the 2010 World Cup has seen an average of about 4.9 million in the U.S., which is double the average number of viewers for matches in 2006.
On a final side note, traffic to gambling websites is also up about 100%, and it seems that a lot of web related content is really picking up. I believe about 54 of the 64 matches are being broadcast in the U.S. via the internet, which means there is potentially many more people watching than the ratings are indicating.