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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soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. uncommonsense

    Is liking more than one sport not allowed?

    The NFL is currently more popular in the U.S. by leaps and bounds and will be for a very long time. No one's debating this.

    However, the 2010 WC's unexpected popularity is welcomed.

    The more people that watch it, the more kids will play it.

    The more kids that play it, the better we get.

    There's room for both.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      All I have to say about how much soccer is growing in the USA is one thing.

      The UEFA Championship was on regular Fox TV. That was HUGE. A massive turning of the corner for American soccer in terms of bringing the international aspect of the game to mainstream America.

      June 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robin

    My hope is that Americans will now realize we're not the best at everything, and we'll start to build up our soccer team.

    As for football, watch a rugby match; it's infinitely, infinitely more intense and ballzy than football will ever be.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • gheezy

      i think they have realized that with the past world cup's, i think we need to realize that we can get better at it.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    All these people who associates the Soccer with the immigrants are so IGNORANTS!!!!! Did you know that right now there are more girls playing soccer in US than all the girls playing soccer in the rest of the world?. Also US women soccer team is the world champions. So before you open your mouth, please read.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tmoney22192

    Leave it to a few ignorant people to turn a stat about a soccer game into a political debate about illegal immigrants. Mercy! Some of you must have skipped your Metamucil this morning.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kane

    I dont like to sound racist here but I have to agree with some people here. Just look at the picture above. How many white or black americans do u see there? Most I see there in that picture are Hispanic looking. Americans dont like Soccer. Its the Hispanic communities that drove those numbers up for this game and any other soccer game. Hispanics love soccer just like most americans love football.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      Kane first off all I see more white and just shades of brown here and there. Second, not all brown people are Hispanics.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • tiff

      Why on earth are you making conclusions about who is watching soccer based on this one photo??

      June 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      Are you blind? there are 2 maybe 3 hispanics in that picture of a room full of white people. And they could even pass off as italian since its NY. I didnt know stupidity could trump vision.

      June 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Murray

    Americans are so arrogant. bunch of whinners because you were beat. Besdies, USA Football sucks. The only real 'football' is Soccer.

    Yankees, the richest most powerfull nation (so THEY claim), with thousands of starving kids, soaring crime rates and millions and millions of arrogant idiots. Amazing you had people who could learn soccer. Mexico should invade and take over the USA.

    June 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DazedBoi

      seriously!!! you need to quit smoking whatever you have been smoking or else you will become a complete fool...so far you can at least express in writing what you want to say and it is all rubbish...keep smoking and you will loose all corresponding skills...

      June 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      Well said! American football is a joke. A complete joke. Fat guys running around doing nothing.

      June 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Flores


    June 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. big j


    June 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kathy

    Guys all those people who are against illegals because they cannot assimilate are now making comments that the very same people are supporting the US team? Shouldn't all the Hispanics be supporting only Mexican team and not be bothered about the US team? Maybe soccer is catching up because we increasingly live in a globalized world because of which people are becoming more aware of the world's most popular game. Besides the comments must be coming from the red necks in the middle of no where, As far as I know the Irish unfair defeat at the hands of the French was condemned amongst the Irish community in the US as it was in Ireland. If Ireland was in this WC then along with Italians, Potugese, Brazilians the American Irish community would have stood behind their heroes.......

    June 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Franck

    Soccer tv ratings in the USA : 5-8%
    US Football tv ratings in the USA: a lot more
    US Football worldwide tv ratings: 1-3%
    Soccer worldwide tv ratings: the rest...

    Soccer is by far the most popular sport around the world. Doesn't mean that it should be the only one.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    How bout them cowboys?

    June 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ale_pON

    I'm just confused why people get defensive about Soccer...let's see my wife watches the superbowl for the commercials that's it. Yes she might be counted as one of those 100 mill....but it does not mean she likes the sport at all. I'm pretty sure there's a lot of cases like that....cause as a sport Football is to damn slow and boring.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The average NFL play lasts 5 seconds. One play every minute. In a three hour plus NFL game there are on the very high side a total of 15 to 20 minutes of real action..and you say soccer is boring?..ever watchef the Tampa Bay Bucs?

      June 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cheech

    The tide has turned. You can feel it. The American people have finnally realized that the NFL is nothing more than a marathon of commericials with a silly game in-between, a game with less than 7 minutes of actual in game play time. I kid you not 7 mintues...look it up.

    Soccer is the ultimate game of flow. There is no stopping, timeouts, tv timeouts, foul shots, commericials or cheerleaders. ITS ABOUT THE GAME, and its coming to a tv near you. Deal with it.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      Yeah till someone flops on the ground for five munites trying to get a foul. If you call that action. And lets not forget all these 0-0 games. lots of action there. give me a break.

      June 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    What is up with the football (NFL) soccer bickering going on. How childish can you get. Child like is good, childish is not. I am watching much of the WC (Mostly the summery show during the workweek), and find the sport and teams exciting to watch. The US loss was crushing. Oh well, we'll be back stronger than ever next time. I also like the NFL. Go Eagles!!!

    June 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. big j

    It is kinda boring give me good old dumb redneck american football some excitement something to spill yer tea over, not back and forth back and forth finally after an hour goal oh wait never mind the ref said that one did not count and by the way the only racist remarks i have seen on hear is calling people rednecks lol.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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