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. mcmuskie79

    Who cares if 14.9 million Americans watched the game, that's only 4% of the population. Quit craming soccer down our throats, nobody in the US cares.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. suzique

    Proof positive that White America forgets that Brown America owns television sets.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. VIVA LA SOCCER!!

    For those of you wanting to compare Ratings between Soccer and American Football!! First, do you homework, here are the so called ratings for the SUPER BOWL 106 millions viewers........alll I have to say is, LAUGHABLE compare to the ratings for FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER RATINGS, 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??? Oh and is number 4th in HISTORY the other top 3 are the World Cup in 1994, 2002, and 1990.....LMAO

    June 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. VIVA LA SOCCER!!

    For those of you wanting to compare Ratings between Soccer and American Football!! First, do you homework, here are the so called ratings for the SUPER BOWL 106 millions viewers........alll I have to say is, LAUGHABLE compare to the ratings for FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER RATINGS, 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??? Oh and is number 4th in HISTORY the other top 3 are the World Cup in 1994, 2002, and 1990.....LMAO!!

    June 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. big j

    Hadjii you the man you nailed that!

    June 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hmm

    Soccer Fever? Yeah right. I am happy that soccer fans got a boost, nothing against them. But lets call it what it is. America loves the underdogs and the US team was advancing for once. Underdogs + winning + massive media blitz = short term bump. Lets see how many continue to watch the Cup now that the US team has been bounced. Or watch 4 years from now.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Truth

    14million viewers out of 300million citizens is mainstream? Lol. (and that 14million is counting illegal immigrants that tuned in)
    The world cup is soccer's biggest event, it only happens once every four years and it involves the entire country, not just a home team market...yet it's all-time viewership rating is 14million? Lol. The NBA finals (which happen every year, only involve two markets, many people think is fixed, and didn’t come close to a U.S. viewership record) drew 28million U.S. viewers for game 7. Double in U.S. viewership.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    I got to watch the Italian soccer team in three D Diving, dirty and defence

    June 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • njndirish

      You forgot the other 2 d's dull and diving
      Dive
      Dull
      Defense
      Dirty
      Dive

      June 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Yamil Dutra

    I have been in NYC for a visit and noticed, as it is normal in any big city in the world, that the population here tends to be brown. Brown is the color of most people on Earth and there is no way to any country or nation to avoid normality. By the way, soccer is the preferred sport of browns. Period!

    June 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Genau

    It's entertaining how some justify certain activities as sports, and others aren't. For instance this 'Mark' character declaring that soccer is 'no-contact' and 'safe' and uses this to prove his point that it's not a sport. Hello!? Have you ever WATCHED baseball!? Soccer is 100% more contact than baseball – I mean, I love baseball just as much as the next person but your point is moot.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steven Brian

    http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    June 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Truth

    I’ve lived in Chile, Nigeria and the U.S. and played soccer through high school. It doesn’t surprise me that soccer isn’t popular in the U.S. because it has so many other exciting sports…more exciting than the world’s version of football. Football features average sized players limited to using their feet. Sports like basketball and football (at the professional level) feature some of the most amazing athletes in the world. American football has some of the strongest athletes on the planet (linemen), the fastest athletes on the planet (WR’s and DB’s), some of the most explosive athletes on the planet (RB’s, LB’s and S’s). It’s amazing watching them clash as living chess pieces…and the coordination between all of the units and coaches. And then there are basketball players like Lebron who are 6’8”, 250lbs who are quick as lightning and can fly. Soccer athletes aren’t awe inspiring. Very skilled, but not elite.
    And the argument that playing soccer is like running a marathon is dumb. Watch one guy the entire match (not just the guys around the ball). Watch one guy no matter where the ball goes. He is standing, walking or jogging lightly 75% of the game. I know, I played!
    Why do we act like the game never stops just because the clock doesn’t stop? It stops all the time: -off-sides, fouls, flopping, faking injury, whining, carding, subs, setting up for penalty kick, setting up for corner kick, setting up for throw-in, clearing the ball out of bounds, etc, etc. It’s all of that combined with lack of legitimate scoring opportunities that makes soccer less exciting than most sports in U.S.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagAodh

      Wow you lived in those other countries and still manage to sound like you never left the USA. If you want big and tough players try Rugby or if you really want tough try Aussie rules football. I'd like to see T.O. et al try to hold onto a ball in that sport.

      June 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. VIVA LA SOCCER!!

    For those of you wanting to compare Ratings between Soccer and American Football!! First, do you homework, here are the so called ratings for the SUPER BOWL 106 millions viewers........alll I have to say is, LAUGHABLE compare to the ratings for FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER RATINGS, 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??? Oh and is number 4th in HISTORY the other top 3 are the World Cup in 1994, 2002, and 1990.....OH and if want a % for the both Final of each sport here it is: 106 Million Viewers to 715 Million = 14%....... and over the course of the Ternament: .4% ............LMAO!!

    June 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmm

      You realise of course one number is US ratings only and the other is a world number right? You are not making your case look very smart by such comparisons 🙂

      June 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CGunn

    The reason soccer is not as popular here in the USA is that we have sooooo many other sports that draw our interest. NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, etc... Lest not forget all of the major college sports that we have in the USA. Most countries around the world do not have the wide array of sports to watch that we have.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ivan

    With another 5 mln. watching the game on Univision, probably just over 20mln. people in the US wacthed the game on Saturday...that's about 1/5 of the Superbowl audience, half of which uses the occasion to get wasted and/or watch commercials...
    Not bad for a sport that truly "made it" on the US sport scene only 16 years ago, when US hosted the World Cup in 1994.
    The haters are on the wrong side of demographics and are a dying breed(literally). Think of how diverse America is becoming. Think of a whole generation which grew up playing the game, think of a baby-league like Major League Soccer which already has a higher average attendance than both NBA and NHL.
    Billy Bob, the beautiful game already is America's game. You have lost, you just don't know it yet!

    June 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
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