By CAITLIN MURRAY
Americans do love to watch soccer — as long as it’s a World Cup and the USA is playing.
The tense opening Brazil 2014 match for the U.S. Men’s National Team against storied rival Ghana turned out to be a ratings boon for ESPN, drawing just more than 11 million viewers. That’s the most ESPN has ever had for a men’s soccer match, according to Nielsen.
What’s more, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision drew 4.8 million, bringing the total television audience to 15.9 million.
For perspective, this month about 6 million watched the Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers for the Stanley Cup and nearly 18 million watched the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat for the NBA title.
For ESPN’s numbers, the USA-Ghana match was beat ratings-wise by the 2011 Women’s World Cup final. Just under 13.5 million watched the U.S. Women’s National Team fall to Japan on ESPN, making it the highest-ever rated soccer match on cable television.
If the USMNT can extend their World Cup run beyond the group stage, it seems to be a sure bet that the record will be broken.
Through the opening 14 matches of the World Cup this year, ESPN averaged around 4.1 million viewers per match, an increase of 23 percent over the 2010 World Cup.
ESPN’s mobile app called WatchESPN averaged 643,000 viewers through the first 11 games of the tournament and set a record by drawing 1.4 million viewers for USA-Ghana. Univision’s online stream drew 1.7 million live streams for the match.
The top ten rated markets for viewership on ESPN were Washington D.C.; New York City; Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore, Md.; Providence, R.I.; Orlando, Fla.; San Francisco; and Norfolk, Va.
What do you think of this news? Will the USMNT break the record in Brazil? Are these numbers a good sign?
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