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)

    Is american football even a spor?. why do you guys call it world series when the rest of the world doesnt even play that dumb sport .FACT : Globally soccer rules!!! FACT : Most people dont care too much about baseball or american football outside of the US borders FACT : your population is being enriched by all other races ...get used to it.

    June 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. j

    How many are watching now, US is gone? LOL

    June 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    Hey "afb74", well at least you folks got to watch the games at a bar / restaurant. I watch it at my house and luckily I receive CBC from Windsor on my TV and I live an hour north of Detroit. If it weren't for CBC, I couldn't watch the game because I can't find a bar / restaurant that will show FIFA. Last night I was at very nice establishment and they had TVs with games on throughout the place. Did they have FIFA? Nope. And when I asked if they would show it, they said that they would have to pay for it. Sitting home ain't bad though and it's cheaper.

    Hey "hate-sucks", you're right on with your post.

    June 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Khalid30

    baseball and american football are stupid games but it fits so well the american culture...you know what I mean dont you. 🙂

    June 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott

    Funny statistic that I heard on CBC / FIFA this past Friday night and that was the majority of tickets sold to the FIFA were by the U.S.A. I am glad but I find that hard to believe.

    June 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott


    Funny how the negative responses to ole joe here...the people dont even speak proper english......

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


    Hey stickman, that was probably written by a player on the Detroit Lions Team. lol.

    June 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Doe

    Reading a lot of the comments made me conduct my own statistical analysis.
    NFL 2010 SB:153.4M watched all or part, 307M people total in NA, 49% watched it.
    FIFA 2006 Final Game: 1.1B (inflated by FIFA) 715M realistic, 6.8B people globally, 10.5% (16% inflated) watched it.

    Considering that the Super Bowl is an American sport that is not viewed by most of the world, I only included the target audience. World Cup is touted as a world sport and had a much lower percentage of people watching it. That said, I watched the US play every game until they were eliminated and was pleased to see a comeback run that was ended short. Next time (2014) we will be better prepared and have a larger fan base. I will not watch the rest of the games, as my team is not there anymore so I am not interested. Same thing with the NFL, when my team is knocked out of the SB run, I do not watch the other games until the SB.

    Soccer is catching on, but how long will it last? The WC is over soon and, much like the Olympics, I will not be watching my local soccer team until they play on the world stage again.

    June 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Header

    Hey DRM, you siad Soccer is the next up and coming sport and always will be. So what you are a saying it wil never
    catch on. People like you have been saying that for the last 12 years. Where is your TV contract ? NCAA Soccer is a club sport. 2 weeks from now nobody will care. Go flash yourself a d big RED CARD. May we get rid of Soccer like the illegals who watch it .

    June 28, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Carlos

    I love soccer. Ghana's team played a lot better than the United States. They controlled the ball way more than the Americans. U.S. needs a better soccer team.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    Guys, stop discussing what sports is the best, and which is one not We need support any sports that promote peace and unity between nations. The problem that we have is that we think that we are the only one in this world, it' s time to open ours doors to others cultures. This an event where from Asia, Europe, Africa, North – Central and South Americans are participating. This is a world cup! nations between nations! ..so let's enjoy it!!! Stop fating for thing that are relevant!!

    June 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike Ingels

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but the numbers are also slightly skewed in the north by the CBC. The CBC has basically taken the month off and is showing all the games. They even show many games a second time in the evening and late night hours.

    So, I was one of those Michiganders who watched the game on the CBC. Those numbers don't count in the U.S. ratings. That means that the ratings in Buffalo, Seattle and Detroit were probably lower than they should have been.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. greybeard

    Did you check out the Nielsen site, which put this in perspective compared to other major sporting events:

    For greater context on the significance of 19.4 million viewers, viewership for other recent major sports events in the U.S. include:

    2009 World Series: 19.1 million (average per game)
    2010 NBA Finals: 18.1 million (average per game)
    2010 final round of the Masters: 16.7 million
    2010 Kentucky Derby: 16.5 million

    No, not as big as the Super Bowl, but definitely doing as well or better than many other major sporting events.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. American Football is lame

    Fact....More people worldwide will watch the World Cup final then the Super bowl. 18 Million views is awesome considering the game was on at 10am east coast time.

    Truth I bet your a lions or redskin fan. Your a loser like your team.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lee Miles

    Ghana convincingly ended the American partisan ego of players, media and the fans. Now they can go back to their pastime played by imported spanish players and the end game called the stupid "world series" for games played within the country. Then after that, you can go back to your "Football" where the ball never touched by foot except for punt, extra point and field goal. They invented this because it is not possible to throw that object by hand! Stupid country, stupid sports and stupid fans.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ErieVern


    June 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
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