This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

FIFA World Cup Still a Huge Draw Without U.S. Team

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Now that the U.S. has lost to its hated nemesis Belgium despite goalkeeper Tim Howard doing everything short of building a wall in front of the net, U.S. viewers are done with the World Cup, right?

No, and this year's surge in interest has little to do with it -- but doesn't hurt.

ESPN, owned as a joint venture between Disney (DIS - Get Report) and Hearst, averaged 3.54 million viewers through the first 48 matches of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, up 46% from the 2010 World Cup and more than double the audience for the early rounds in 2006. Univision, meanwhile, averaged a network-best 2.9 million viewers for each of those same 48 matches. The U.S. men's national team, meanwhile, averaged nearly 18.3 million on ESPN and Univision combined for its three opening-round matches, with the 24.7 million audience for its match against Portugal making it the most-watched opening-round World Cup match in U.S. history. Aided by a 0-0 draw through regulation, the heroics of Howard and a late goal by 19-year-old Julian Green, even the U.S. loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 drew 16.5 million viewers to ESPN alone and 21.6 million to ESPN and Univision combined. Throw in ESPN and Univision's digital audiences and that viewership soars to 28.2 million, which would be the largest viewership for soccer in U.S. television history.

As ESPN, Univision and ABC have discovered, however, their combined $425 million investment in the U.S. broadcast rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup have paid dividends far beyond what the U.S. men's national team could produce. Until this year, the most-watched World Cup match in U.S. history was the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and The Netherlands on ABC and Univision. That combined television audience was the largest ever for a U.S. soccer broadcast and easily overshadowed the 19.4 million who watched the Round of 16 matchup between the U.S. and Ghana that year -- which was the most-watched U.S. national team match to that point.

It was a viewership so large that it outperformed ABC's broadcast Ohio State/Oregon Rose Bowl (24.04 million) that year. It also outdrew the 2010 men's college basketball national championship game between Duke and Butler (23.99 million) on CBS (CBS - Get Report), the Winter Olympics closing ceremony on NBC (21.4 million) and a whole lot of prime-time Winter Olympics coverage including the he U.S./Canada men's hockey gold medal game on NBC (18.3 million). It was an audience 10 million viewers larger than that year's average viewership for Major League Baseball's World Series (14.3 million) and easily larger than the average draw for both the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League finals.

That's a huge number, but it isn't unprecedented. As early as the U.S.-hosted World Cup in 1994, 18.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the final matchup between Brazil and Italy. At the time, that was still a smaller audience than the average for the 1993 World Series (24.7 million), but it was still unprecedented for soccer. The 17 million U.S. viewers who tuned in for 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France didn't set any records, but they were the first U.S. World Cup audience to outdraw the World Series average. That year's matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers pulled in only 15.8 million viewers, on average.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
CBS $57.47 1.66%
CMCSA $61.05 0.26%
EA $62.24 0.58%
DIS $104.93 1.22%
FOXA $29.84 0.13%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,660.71 +9.45 0.05%
S&P 500 2,050.63 -0.49 -0.02%
NASDAQ 4,717.0940 -8.5450 -0.18%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs