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. SoccerFootballFan

    I love watching the US soccer team and I love playing soccer too. But, college football is lots of fun as well. That's what I call diversity: the ability to play/watch multiple kinds of sports without discrimination. 😉

    You know a simple way to fix the immigration problem? Eliminate Income Taxes and put an equivalent Sales Tax on everything. That way if you're rich you buy a lot and pay a lot of taxes. If you're poor you buy less and thus pay less taxes. If you're illegal, you still pay taxes! Everyone's happy! (Except maybe the Rich people who have tax loopholes, and anyone who's currently paid under the table.) Who cares then if you're 'supposed' to be here, you're paying into the country anyways.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Goodwillhuntin

    Ghana kicked their ass because they are superior, originality and bragging rght.

    MLS heard of it and never watched it-Just bunch of mediocre players from Africa, Europe and America. It tells you about the quality of soccer in America. Just like this country feel threatened with the invasion of “wet******,” taking over California, same is with soccer. This country is changing with 3 out of 10 Americans with alien background. American football fans only make noise about soccer if they win but when they loose; they start thinking about changing the rules to fit them, how pathetic. How can you promote soccer when you have British sports analyst in ESPN instead of the natives? That is un-American. Love soccer and stop criticizing what you don't understand. It is the most watched and the most played in the world. But that does not change my love for the Super Bowl and college football

    June 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MR

      British commentry in box helps peoples understand game better. So no agree to ur points.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. srk

    Comparison is not correct we are comparing regional/local game against global game both football and cricket both has more global viewer than combined all american games. This article is just talking about the real football the one played with feet's it becoming popular in USA

    June 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sid

    Obviously football is catching up in the US. It has a hell of a long way to get to American Football in popularity but a lot more of my co-workers were watching the World Cup this time around and were very vocal of their support in discussions. Immigration issues have nothing to do with the topic. Guys, when the world cup happens, wars stop in other countries, and here you are arguing about immigration.


    June 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      Totally agree. Besides being a blatently racist, the immigration argument doesn't make sense. In order to work, immigrants would have to increased more than the 68% listed as the increase in ratings over the past four years, assuming they have not been the majority of the soccer viewing audience. Probably a safe bet given how ratings are determined – I'm guessing there aren't too many illegal immigrant Nielsen families.

      June 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bangash

    The ratings are heartening, but the US team loss to Ghana was heart-breaking. US team needs to improve by going on the offensive from kickoff....not the second half.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MR

    Why discussing this points? Enjoyable game is ghana-usa so peoples watched more.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Revilo212

      Soccer is the next up and coming sport in the US........And always will be.

      You couldn't be more correct...it is up and coming and will never get there. You soccer fans say this around every World Cup. Give it up...it will never catch on in the U.S. It is baseball, football, and hoops...that will never change so quit trying to say "we don't understand it" or "we just don't get it."

      I am not saying that is the way it should be...it's just the way it is and has been now for some time.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hadjii

    I think in order for the game to be interesting to an American audience, you need to change a few things about the game.

    1. Enforce diving rules more strictly. I’m so sick of watching grown man lay on the grown crying like they’ve been stabbed repeatedly, then get carried off on a stretcher only to get up & continue playing like nothing’s wrong a minute later after they’ve given the opposing player a penalty. It’s bad sportsmanship & just plain lame. Unless you suffer a Theisman-esque injury, get up & keep playing.

    2. 2 words: Instant replay. How many blatantly blown calls were there? Put another official up in a replay box. The refs already have the headsets, why not use the damn things? There’s nothing more frustrating than an un-fixable mistake. Just ask Armando Gallaraga.

    3. Overtime during the group round. Ties are boring. The rest of the world thinks Americans are impatient because we don’t appreciate soccer. Well, rest-of-the-world, have some patience for OT, then we’ll call it even? (pun intended) Not a big fan of the shoot-outs, so maybe just use those during the knockout rounds. Fans at hockey games love them, although purists dislike them. An OT period to try and decide the winner of a 0-0 game? Sounds fair to me. Fatigued players make errors. Errors lead to goals. Goals win games. ‘Nuff said.

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

      Point 1: They injure, but using pain killer to get back quick up.
      Point 2: I agreed to this point.
      Point 3:Not sure what you means.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • nans

      well thats the beauty of soccer!!!!!. the ability of not have a replay. All mistakes are counted. Some gain & some loose doesnt mean u arent a good soccer team/player.

      June 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagAodh

      So Hadjii, with your suggestions we should just pad up our players and start playing NFL football? If you start second gussing every call you end up with a 4 hour game while the officials make their minds up on what actually happened during he previous 20 seconds of play.

      BTW hated the entire us team invading the pitch when you scored. Get off the field, FIFA should be warning the US team about that kind of behaviour as it deliberatley delays the game and shows in my opinion "bad sportsmanship"

      June 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MJ

    Please god no ! LIke we need another sport in this country. After the endless hockey and basketball playoffs (I think hockey's playoffs are getting almost as long as the whole NFL season) we do not need more. And certainly NOT a sport who's fans are the absolute worst animals about their teams and the other teams they play. International soccer fans make Philly fans and Laker fans actually seem like decent human beings !

    June 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Franck

      Sometimes unfortunately true... What about Curling ? A peaceful sport where you can clean your kitchen while training?

      June 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sakura

    I enjoy watching any sport as long as I have can do it while drinking beer and eating food with friends. It's about entertainment and having fun so stop trying to drag politics in to it. The world cup only comes around once every four years so use the excuse to skip work and watch a game before its gone.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. USFAN

    I have to say I was happy with the US team. The ratings they pulled were really excellent too, shows a growing fanbase in the US, and will see it grow again the next 4 years.

    It was very exciting to see them come from behind over an over again. the fighting spirit they showed when most teams would have crumbled psychologically. We may not have had the big stars that others did but the heart, determination, and team play was fantastic.

    See you again in four years. Looking forward to it. In the meantime I'll enjoy the rest of the games. Argentina Germany will be fireworks.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Franck

      Oui ! Absolument !!!

      June 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. reallynow

    Sooo, to digress from the actual point of the article and adress the football vs. futbol vs. other sports comments, here is my take. Just because soccer players run around for 90 minutes does not by any means make it a better sport, or require more skills, it just means that the atlethes train specifically for that. Nascar goes for 3 hours, and that is not easy (controlling a car at 160+ mph is no joke), but that does not make it better than soccer. Football is a much more intellectual sport(reguardless of what T.O. makes you think), than soccer is. Soccer does not have near the strategy or planning that football does. It just does not, period, no arguement. That being said, again, that does not make football better. MY main point is that both sides of the arguement are dbags for getting so worked up.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagAodh

      American Football is mor Intellectual how?

      June 28, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • To_the_clueless

      Of course soccer has strategy. The price tag on the coach's contract clearly shows it.
      Ever heard of a 4-4-3 or a 4-3-3-1 and many other permutations that represent the players position on the field?
      Of course you haven't, because you're clueless!

      June 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gheezy

    can i post anything?

    June 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. big j

    john don't know if u saw the Gahna Usa match but after the second goal the Gahna team suddenly became the targets of injury that caused them to fall down on the feild and not be able to move then sit up look around and suddenly become injured again im pretty sure thats how the injurie rate got so hi that and the fans rioting LOL.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |

    For those of you wanting to cmpare Soccer vs Football and wanted to compare Ratings!! First do you homework, here are the so called ratings for the SUPER BOWL 106 millions viewrs........alll I have to say is, LAUGHABLE compare to the ratings for FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER RATINS, here you go just for the 2006 World Cup: The 2006 World Cup stands as one of the most watched events in television history, garnering an estimated 26.29 billion non-unique viewers, compiled over the course of the tournament. The final attracted an estimated audience of 715.1 million people....so you were Saying??? LMAO

    June 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DocJ

    More young kids play soccer in this country than any other sport, football is way down the list. Soccer is enjoyed by every ethnic group(except for some of those really radicalized muslims and christians, but they dont count). That doesnt change the fact that soccer is extremely boring to watch on TV. Before you bash me, I played soccer from 4 years old til I graduated from college, then a few years after that I joined a hispanic league( I am not hispanic) in my town so i could continue playing, I love the game. But it does not translate well to TV, especially in America where our concentration is very short. I am sure that after 15 minutes of passing the ball back and forth, the average person is going to switch the channel. There isnt enough excitement for the non fan or casual fan( like baseball, which may be more boring than soccer). Football, on the other hand, is loaded with excitement and much more entertaining to watch. But if the US is able to make the final World Cup match, the worldwide TV ranking will blow the super bowl out of the water. And one thing the super bowl cant match, 300 million people all pulling for the same team at the same time. The olympics feature us rooting for individuals and teams over several weeks, but the World Cup is us against the world, rooting for the same team and the same sport over and over again. Nothing in the world can compare, not the measly old superbowl, not the measly old World (US) series, nothing. Would the world turn in like they do for a basketball world cup(dream team stuff was boring as hell), the baseball classic(which the US has a worse shot of winning than the wolrd cup), a football world cup or a hockey world cup? Nope.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
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