Top Stories

Women’s World Cup final smashes TV records

USWNTCelebratesWorldCup1 (USATodaySports)

Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports


The 2015 Women’s World Cup final didn’t just break records on the field. It also broke records on the TV screen.

According to Nielsen, the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 5-2 rout of Japan on FOX earned an overnight metered market household rating/share of 15.2/27. Per, the game averaged 25.4 million viewers over the course of the evening, during the 7-9 p.m. ET time slot.

From 8:45 to 9 p.m., as the USWNT drew closer to ending its 16-year World Cup drought, the TV viewership peaked with an 18.3/31.

To put it in perspective, the Women’s World Cup final had more viewers than the U.S. Men’s National Team’s match vs. Portugal last summer (18.7 million on ESPN and 24.7 combined with Univision’s viewership), the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final (13.46 million), Game Six of the 2015 NBA Finals (23.3 million on ABC) and even Game Seven of the 2014 World Series (23.5 million on FOX).

The Nielsen numbers don’t take into account the thousands of fans who watched online or at sports bars across the country.

What do you think of this development? Impressed with the support for the USWNT from across the country? Do you see this number being broken at the Olympics next year?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Men can kick the ball harder. The women’s game has better sportsmanship, better team shape/passing, and better teamwork.

    What you don’t see in the women’s game is the freddy adu type who does sixteen step overs and then turns the ball over. Female players work together. We men could probably learn a lot from watching them.

    That said, i only watch the men’s game.

    The freddy adu types annoy me, but in this world nothing is perfect. For me, i still prefer the men’s game.

    My 2 cents

    • “Men can kick the ball harder. The women’s game has better sportsmanship, better team shape/passing, and better teamwork.”

      If all you think the men do better is kick the ball harder, you must be new to watching soccer. Now I had a great time watching this WWC, but the men’s game is still vastly superior in all of those aspects. I do agree with you on sportsmanship, but Men’s soccer is literally the most competitive sport in the world so you can forgive them for lack of sportsmanship.

      • Obviously male athletes in general are “better” that’s why there are separate competitions. Still the technique required on Lloyd’s first goal is pretty insane.

        I enjoy watching both and the great part about watching women’s international soccer is the US can win it all! Probably going to be a while before we can say that about the men.

  2. I’m not sure of what to make of the fact that more people tuned in for this game than the US v. Portugal match other than that, sadly, many Americans still view soccer as a women’s sport.

    • July 4th weekend & playing for a title. Had the US gotten past Belgium, we would have played Argentina on July 4th. Those would have been monster numbers. Doesn’t hurt that Fox had amazing coverage and promotion.

    • Not really. I mean the final of a world cup brings out a lot of people. plus the crowds at different events across the US was massive. huge. the bars were absolutely packed across the USA. think on those numbers as well. there were great turnouts for outdoor events as well in the US for the women but not as many as there were for portugal vs usa.

      • exactly. there would be monster ratings had the men reached a WC final. it was an “event” and had little to do w/ specific gender, imo.

    • I don’t quite get the numbers. It’s been reported that 15.2 is about 17.7 M viewers. How is that more than the number who watched USA-Portugal. The NBA numbers are wrong. According to a couple of sources (ESPN, Bleacher Report) Game 6 of NBA was highest rated:

      The Warriors’ series-clinching Game 6 victory had a 15.9 overnight rating — a Game 6 record for ABC.

      However, no one said there would be math on this test, so I could be mistaken.

    • None of you get the point. Women’s sports are, essentially, irrelevant. The WNBA or women’s basketball at the Olympics only gets a fraction of what the men’s game gets. It should be the same for women’s soccer, but these TV ratings prove that a lot of people who watch women’s soccer don’t even watch the men’s game.

  3. For the last couple of years, every time someone announces a new soccer specific stadium I write that it is too small and I hope that it can be expanded easily. I just see that the US interest in soccer is ready to grow exponentially. When you see the crowds that Orlando is getting for an expansion team, now these TV ratings, the growth in MLS and their signing this year of so many big name players, the future is brighter than anything I’ve seen in the last 25 years.

    • You need to separate “Event” viewing from regular soccer viewing. Americans view event soccer in large numbers and increasing, but MLS viewership are paltry (even though they are up fom ESPN and NBCsports numbers last year):

      – ESPN2’s 5 p.m. Sunday broadcasts are averaging 283,000
      – Fox Sports 1’s average viewership for MLS so far this season is 219,000
      – Univision had averaged so far 325,000 viewers for MLS matches

      MLS might pulls higher attendance numbers, but outdoor events should outdrawn indoor events and real revenue comes from tv ratings (NHL averages this season):
      – NBC television – 1,532,000/game
      – NBC Sportsnet – 350,000/game

      However, NHL is gets a lot money from outrageous Canadian tv ratings and revenue.

      MLS is improving, but we have while to go. I will be happy when we average 1 million+ in ratings for an entire season. Essentially, triple to quadruple our numbers.

      • MLS viewership to American viewership is a bit apples to oranges because there are so many other leagues and teams to watch. Whats the viewership of Mexican Liga, or the EPL.

      • For this past season:
        – Liga MX on UniMás averaged 985,000 a game
        – EPL averaged a record 479,000 a game on NBC/NBCSN

        * There is clearly a market for weekly viewership of soccer, but a lot of it goes to other, more established leagues. Liga MX triples/quadruples MLS viewership (mainly afternoon and primetime) and EPL (mainly early and late morning).

        *Liga MX has the ratings I want for MLS (about 1 million a game – average). With that, I think MLS could get $100million/yr at least (about 5 million a team for salaries). However, LigaMX has teams that are 100 years old with a formal league structure about 75 years old with a lot of money.

        *The key thing is US is not their major market, yet they still outdraw MLS in its own market.

      • Also, consider that soccer is the main and only sport for Mexicans/Mexican Americans. I doubt many non-Mexicans are watching that league. I used to watch it and the Argentine League before MLS was around, but these days just stick to MLS, EPL, and La Liga.

    • For real

      I met a girl at a wedding in SF that looked exactly like alex morgan (same exact face but better body) and she didn’t even know who alex morgan was! Kinda shocking she didnt know and neither did her friends.

      Pulled out my iphone and showed her and the whole party went crazy. She was getting called alex morgan all night. She even admitted that it looked exactly like her

    • Germany also spent nearly 700 million on youth development between 2001 and 2011. So when you factor that in the US Women probably came out ahead.

      • We have more money than anyone but the trick is getting enough of it into soccer, as opposed to other sports. Only the growing popularity of the sport will change that.

      • In many ways, the US system has outsourced a lot of the costs into the hands of parents, high schools and colleges. It’s not well focused or always useful, but it saves USSF a ton of money on the women’s side.

      • To be fair it’s estimated the Bundesliga spent 700 million, the German FA it self spends 13 million a year on youth development. MLS says it’s now spending 20 million a year. Which is a great start but we still have a ways to go. If we never win a World Cup I’ll root for any US team all the same, I just think we should all know there’s still a ways to go.

      • more than that, we still base everything on tournaments, where kids play 4 games a weekend, as if somehow that is a way to judge talent. JOKE
        tournaments are for the producers and the scouts, NOT the kids or player development. since when is soccer a game where you hold back because you have to play another game later that day, and then get up the next morning to play another, and then finish that Sunday afternoon off with another game?

        Soccer is a game where you go out and explode with focus and energy and leave it all out there for 90 minutes…then you recover for a few days because you MUST if you play the game right.

        we are not doing that with our youths, by far my biggest pet peeve with American youth soccer (along with the pay to play BS) and one of the biggest things I hoped US soccer would change with the new regime that they have not

      • Yeah, totally agree. I’ve sat through many of those tournaments and they’re ridiculous. HS and college schedules are also insane – 3 or 4 games a week for two months straight.

        Development Academy seems to be a step in the right direction. Generally 1 game a week only with 3 or 4 practices – a much saner way to develop young players.

    • I think that change will be driven more by sponsors and broadcasters willing to pay more than FIFA being “inspired” to do it.

    • You do realize that the pool of money for prizes comes as a direct correlation from advertising dollars… the World Cup on the men’s side is the worlds largest sporting event… I loved the WWC but the ad money was peanuts comparitively.

      • They spent 27 m on that propaganda film. And if advertisements are part of it, the ratings this had should be worth something. Not saying it should be equal but should be a little closer than 33m apart.

      • Precisely. Will be curious to see what the worldwide ratings are. That’s the right metric to focus on. Think Argentina-Germany final had worlwide ratings over 1 billion.

  4. Great to hear. Look how far the sport has come here in the last 20 years. Can’t wait to see what the next 20 bring.

    • Ok. This scary. One of your very BEST posts. EVER.

      I just hope that my old sports talk listening behind is around to see it.

      • Why is it scary that you like a post of mine? Because I don’t think recruiting Germans for the USMNT is a great idea?

      • Bro, just a little friendly ribbing. I completely disagree with you about that subject and a few others.

        We’re still family and it’s all good.

      • No, it’s because you think being a xenophobe is a good idea. Give it a rest. What part of your slow brain does not understand that those “German” players are US citizens and have the same rights you do.

      • Yeah, I don’t get all of the hate on ze German and other ‘foreign’ players. The US is the epitome of a melting pot. Heck, let’s go back a four hundred years and look at how the ‘foreigners’ came here and killed off the natives. Under this argument, not many of us would fit into Slow’s mold.

    • Probably too small of a sample Slowleft, but this WWC for the first time in my experience had caught the attention and honest interest of a half dozen of friends in my family’s social circle.. small amount for sure, but these folks would have never given a damn about soccer prior to this WC period! Sure they know how rabid a fan that I am, but none of them ever admit watching it but instead have always joked about it and calling it boring. They are all anxious to watch the Gold Cup and really showed genuine interest in the womens game. Just trying to share the positivity.. I hope it spreads all over the nation.

      • Great to hear and I have to say I see a lot of people changing their minds about a sport that they were taught to hate. Sorry it is what it is. In the 1980’s soccer promoters people were blasting about how ‘soccer’ was the sport of the 80’s. Sports show hosts, radio, newspapers and magazines were all over the sport of ‘soccer’ as boring, violent (hooligans) and foreign. I have sales managers in my office that still think that way. It’s just refreshing to see the game of football taking off in my country. I’ve been a player, coach and referee but now I’m just a supporter. I just got back from earning my 45th cap (Nashville US v Guatemala) as a USMNT supporter so I know a bit about it. It’s great that our players are getting their just due now. Now looking forward to the Gold Cup tournament

      • +1000

        We are on track to being quite the powerhouse indeed. Really psyched for the Gold Cup!

      • Men In Blazers used to be good, but not it is way too scripted. Soccer Morning, Best Soccer Show, and Total Soccer Show are my go-tos. Soccer Morning is your best bet if you want a more traditional talk sports radio feel. Other 2 are more bantering like Men In Blazers, but you know, not sold out to Guinness and their own shtick.

      • Can’t believe I forgot the SBI Show. Thanks Beto. Also a good one, especially if you really like casual conversation.

      • Oh, those old guys who call in to talk about baseball and steroids, football and bad behavior, etc.

      • The game was discussed this morning on Mike & Mike, which is a great example of “traditional” sports talk radio.

        When Fox’s broadcast was over I switched to FS1 and they were talking about some football player blowing his hand off with fireworks (eventually they got around to the world cup again) so Fox still has plenty of room for improvement.

      • Fox needs to start with an improvement when it comes to the Hi-Def.

        The Disney family and NBC kill them wen it comes to how the games look.

        I hate watching a watery image on a big screen tv because Fox doesn’t want to pony up more cash to improve the image.

        How about they start with that?

      • Totally concur Yanki… but in addition to improving the HD, they also need to upgrade the camera producers who pick the wrong time to change the view, thus making it harder to follow the ball on things like set pieces and buildup attacks. The massive view changes throughout the telecasts, showing screaming face painted fans and other supposedly unique rooting section pics.. Far too many extreme closeups, making it difficult to actually follow things like ‘the f’n ball movement and shape’. Espn at very least covers a game with far more extensive coverage experience.

      • @ Yankoboy and Gil King
        Just FYI… the World Cup matches are shot and produced by a company other than FOX… this was FIFA appointed production… Fox just works with what they get from FIFA…

      • The actual game is produced by someone other than Fox/ Not sure who picks the production company, but id it’s FIFA, it explains why the production values were sub-standard as the production company most likely had to bribe a FIFA official to get the job.
        But the ratings were good and good ratings= good $$$. This does trickle down for everybody and sparks interest in more networks which produces higher bids. Lets hope MLS ratings continue to be greater than expected, which means higher media rights returns,higher caps and better players. It’s all symbiotic

      • Regardless of who broadcasts or films or produces or whatever, I thought all of it was rubbish. That includes the commentary during the entire tournament. I watched every US match and a good number of other matches, and I frequently found myself annoyed with the commentary.

      • Wow. You guys just dated me. I enjoy sports talk radio.

        And of course, lately on sport talk radio there has been a lot of soccer discussion outside of the World Cup. Things like indictments, arrests, corruption, domestic violence…

    • I think that radio listeners are probably a different demographic than soccer fans. I think soccer is getting great coverage in new media however

    • Considering SBI gave minimum coverage to the WWC, we probably should criticize sports radio too much. SBI is a soccer blog and barely covered the WWC. I was really disappointed. There have been multiple articles about the USMNT leading into game 1 of the Gold Cup and I think there was article leading into the women’s final.


Leave a Comment