June 28th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

U.S.-Ghana game makes TV history

U.S. soccer fans in New York react Saturday during their team's match against Ghana.

[Updated at 1:30 p.m.] History may have repeated itself when Ghana beat the United States 2-1 in extra time, eliminating the Americans from the World Cup on Saturday, but the weekend match did make television history of its own.

The contest became the most-watched men's game in FIFA World Cup history in the United States, according to ESPN. In 2006, Ghana also eliminated the U.S. with a 2-1 win.

For more than two hours Saturday afternoon, an average 14.9 million viewers tuned in to ABC, according to ESPN, 13 percent more than the highly anticipated U.S. versus England World Cup game June 12, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Combined with viewers from Spanish TV network Univision, the number of viewers exceeds 19 million, according to latest data from Nielson media research.

The U.S.-Ghana contest also ranks as the third highest-rated Men's World Cup game on record, behind two matches in 1994 - the game between the U.S. and Brazil and that year's men's final between Brazil and Italy.

San Diego was the top market for Saturday’s Team USA game, delivering a 15.4 rating, according to ESPN. In fact, the California city was the top market for all three previous U.S. matches, when the team played against England, Slovenia and Algeria.

The 1999 women's final (U.S.-China) still averaged the most viewers for a soccer game in the U.S., with about 18 million viewers.

Soccer fever has gripped much of America this World Cup season. Audience viewership for the first three games played by the U.S. was up 68 percent in 2010, compared with the same point during the 2006 World Cup, according to an earlier report by Nielson media research.

An average of 11.1 million viewers caught the English and Spanish-language broadcasts for each of the U.S. three Group C matchups in this year’s World Cup. In 2006, the U.S. three group stage games averaged 6.6 million viewers.

“These ratings demonstrate the remarkable increase of interest in U.S. soccer over the last four years,” Stephen Master, Nielsen's vice president of sport, said in a statement.

“The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that two of these games were played on weekday mornings, when many viewers are at work. Although more people than ever chose to watch live streaming video of the games from their computers and mobile devices, TV viewing climbed even higher.”

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Filed under: Sports
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. GoMetricAmerica

    Soccer is like the Metric System : 95% of the World uses it, but the 5 remaining think it's odd.

    Yet, in the US, only basket-ball has a bigger player base than soccer. At least people are beginning to understand the rules.

    The day the Yanks will win the World Cup, people will understand that a Superbowl played between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers is just a local ball game.

    June 29, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. GoMetricAmerica

    The day the US will win the World Cup may be the Latino immigrants will feel like proud Americans!

    Go DONOVAAAN!!!!!!!

    June 29, 2010 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. ned

    Soccer will always be the sport of the future, just like Dippin' Dots has been the ice cream of the future for 20+ years now.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. FranBoston

    How the hell did this article become political and racist???
    Guys it's a sport if you like it you'll view it if not so be it

    June 29, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. des

    I cam to the us about 20 years ago. I was 26 years old and an avid sports fan. Never have I seen the game Americans call football before in my life. Took me about 3 years to get interested and additional 2 years to get the rules down. Now I like it. However it seems to me the world outside the USA knows nothing about it... to much soccer out there.

    July 12, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Will

    American football is awful. Proof: people spend as much time talking about the COMMERCIALS than they do talking about the game.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. You'reDumb


    "US Ratings History"


    The US is not the world.

    You're Dumb.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. PACA

    Dude, you need help.
    For real.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. melrae

    i didn't want to comment, but i had too. what are you even talking about? what are you trying to say? this is one of the stupidest comments i have ever read.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wussup

    What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no thanks, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. melrae

    enjoying the Billy Madison reference. never was it more applicable.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Truth

    You're dumb

    The story was about U.S. viewership. The U.S. ratings record for watching soccer is 14million. That's it. I was pointing out that the most watched event in the history of U.S. Television ratings was another sport...NFL. See how those two go together? Let me know if you have any more questions.
    You're dumb.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. You'reDumb


    Maybe you can't read, but the article is about the most watched game in FIFA WC history in the US.

    It's not about the NFL, or immigration. But since you brought it up, the World Cup kicks major NFL butt when you look at it on a global perspective. Don't be such an isolationist.

    You had a point, but it was a dumb one.


    June 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MarylandBill

    Making this about illegal immigration is the ultimate in stupidity.
    Yes, I am sure lots of Hispanics watched the game, and some of them were illegal. Of course, I suspect that most of those who were illegal, probably watched the Spanish Language channels. So even if we assume that every single person who watched the Spanish Language channel was an illegal, we still have over 15 million who watched the game.

    I will admit, comparing American Football to Association Football (soccer) does show that the latter is no where near the former in popularity in the USA. It may never be. That being said, there are three other sports that are considered major sports in this country. I think we may not be far from the day when MLS overtakes the NHL (Per Game attendance at MLS games already rivals the NHL and the NBA, though hockey and basketball have many more games in a season for much higher total attendance). The real factor is television viewers. Fox sees enough of a market to devote an entire cable channel to soccer, and ESPN now shows an MLS game and an occasional EPL game.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. You'reDumb


    You're an idiot.



    June 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
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