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. kiks

    @ Gatsby. More immigrants watching the US game doesnt mean they like the US........its just a great pleasure to see The team get its a** kicked !!!!!!! 🙂

    June 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. njndirish

    This had a better rating than games 1-6 of the NBA finals and all 7 games of the Stanley Cup Finals and all 6 games of the World Series. As for the Olympics comparison, only Phelps's attempt at the record and USA-Canada hockey had better ratings. Those are FINALS and medal winning events. Not as many people watched Phelps' qualifying or USA group stage and tourney up until the final vs. Canada. The USA-Ghana game was a round of 16 match up, not even a final yet people tuned in. So don't use the Olympic excuse because people went out of their way to watch this team, while most olympic events went unwatched even in primetime

    June 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. njndirish

    Also most Mexican immigrants are Mexico fans, same applies to every other recent immigrant. They may live in a new country but they still support their heritage.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MrBo

    I meant 1.5, not 15

    June 28, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. matt

    i was at Tour De Fat in Chicago. we had a bike powering a portable television and we all took turns riding the stationary bike so that that tv would work so we could watch the game. the funny part was, whenever we wanted USA to score, we would peddle faster...... didnt seem to work 🙁

    June 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dumdasredneck

    in my trailor park ant knowbooday be funnin wid dat forin sooker thang

    June 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. It's called Soccer

    Just had to point out I find it highly unlikely that the WC will attract 15 billion viewers when there are less than half as many people actually on the earth.

    Also Soccer is ridiculously boring and simplistic and will never, ever, EVER be more than a niche sport in America. You want to know why there are viewers? MID SEASON BASEBALL IS THE ONLY THING ON! Nothing else is available except the WNBA, so great stuff beating out women's basketball I guess? Funny thing is you see more girls crying playing soccer due to phantom hits than you do in the WNBA.

    June 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KC

    This game was terrible. If all you have to do is fall down everytime the opposing team runs by you to play in the WC then sign me up I can do that. Ghana you did not play a fair game.

    Granted the U.S. has lousy ball control and would have never gotten past Germany or Argentina.

    June 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    Soccer is for people who mother wouldn't let them play american football!!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Speculator

    So what that more people in the US watched soccer than before? The total population is increasing! I wonder if it ever occurred to any of these journalists that you need to also factor in that populations are getting bigger : P

    One of the reasons soccer is and never was popular in the US is because here soccer has so many other sports to compete with. The 14 or whatever million viewers that soccer got is nothing compared to the 100 million viewers the Super Bowl gets. Here in the US we have football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, golf, etc. Soccer is not even amongst the top 5 sports in the US, where as it is really the only team sport in most other countries. Some countries have soccer and one or two other sports, but here in the US there are dozens. For instance, some countries I travel to they have only soccer and a little bit of hockey. That is all they play! Then on TV they get their basketball by watching the NBA, watching MLB, watching golf from the US PGA, and even watching America's hockey league, the NHL. Also, I think anyone who has talked to Americans would already know that Americans utterly dislike the "wimpy" way of soccer. Somebody touches another guy's jersey and that guy then falls to the ground, grabs his leg, and starts crying. While you should be weightlifting soccer players are instead busy taking acting lessons. Soccer fans also know about this and the commentators from ESPN to BBC openly acknowledge, though some die-hard hooligans will of course never. Take a look at other sports in America. A sport like soccer which encourages grown men to act like little girls doesn't have a chance. There is just no way people who are heavily exposed to a large variety of sports, such as Americans, could ever come to respect a wimpy sport like soccer. Also, I think FIFA's stubbornness to adopt technology to improve the game, such as using video replays, is really justifying the criticism Americans have of the game. Just yesterday England against Germany had a good goal disallowed all because there is no video replay (the ball clearly went off the bar and over the line). So now even the British and BBC commentators have joined the Americans into criticizing soccer for not adopting video replay and thus soccer not only doing nothing to prevent unfairness, but also encouraging it too and allowing mistakes. In other words, if soccer was an athlete it would be the least likely candidate to receive the award for best sportsmanship.

    June 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. interesting

    basically they are trying to say that interest in soccer is growing in the US. ESPN plugged it 24/7 and other netowrk tried to make it big news. The US reached the second round and it still didn't gain much support and did not even break records in soccer viewing in the US.

    People keep trying to plug soccer as the next up and coming sport because it would be good for the news revanue. Unfortuantely, soccer is very boring to watch and most americans don't care.

    All of the major sports have stratgey, american football was set up as a game ersion of military exercises. Soccer has its own strategy too. That doesn't make me want to watch it though. Personally i'm glad that ESPN and other news stations will be going back to sports I care about and I won't have to listen to how much soccer is catching on in the US until the next world cup.

    P.S. for the person who said 15 billion people watched the world cup last time around, there are only about 8 billion people on earth...

    June 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. zagool6

    Who cares about how many Americans watch world cup or not. Americans (big majority) love football and the rest of the world adores soccer, everybody is happy. I commend the U.S team for getting this far without support from their own people. In any case, everybody relax, the world cup won't be won by the U.S in our life time.

    June 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Keith

    As a soccer fan, I no longer feel the need to explain the sport or my personal affection for it to anybody who doesn't care about it.

    Fellow soccer fans.....STOP trying to sell the sport to people who don't "get it". It only makes you look needy.

    No go watch that Brazil/Chile game!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trombone Lady

    As an avid US-football player, I never found out why the US game is called football. Soccer(What the US calls it) is a true game played with one's feet. Maybe if my fellow US residents would understand the art of true football, we would not downgrade this facinating and enjoyable sport. Don't hate what you don't understand. A SuperBowl is game for US teams-not Global Teams!!! Reading and Learning is fundamental!!!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagAodh

      Maybe if your fellow Football players actually learned the history of their game, then they wouldn't criticise real football so much. Especially when football developed from exactly what you see being played in the WC.

      June 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BMC

    It is too bad this conversation turned into an issue of race, immigration and name calling.

    It is great that so many people in the US watched the game. I'm sure a good number of them were not "regular" soccer fans, but were excited about watching a group of talented athletes and proud American's represent the US in sport abroad. Qualifying to the final 16 countries was tremendous and the path to get there was full of excitement. We went as far as England and did better than Italy and France, where soccer is their most popular sport... Way to go team USA!!!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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