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. Mike

    It made history as probably the most boring sporting event I've ever watched. About an hour and a half of game time during which virtually nothing happened.

    I'm glad the rest of the world enjoys it so much; they can keep it.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike Ingels

    Actually, I think that this tournament was extremely well-placed in the calendar. I was basically looking for a fix after the NHL season ended and – boom – there's soccer. And the great thing about South Africa is that the games start right about when people wake up in the morning and last until about dinner time. So, a person can get up on a Saturday morning and watch a live game.

    Soccer is #1 of the odd sports.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    For the person who said that there are only 6 billion humans on the earth, the population of China alone is over 7 billion! Check your stats...

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

    what is with all the soccer fans claiming bizarre things like "18 billion people watched the World Cup" or "26 billion people watched the World Cup." Umm, hello, there are no more than 7 billion people on the entire planet! This doesn't say much good about the intelligence of soccer fans : P

    June 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. imran kadha

    very heartwarming to see amrikans loose, hopefully they will never take the world cup.
    keep playing your home made rubbish sports like fooot ball or ape ball and call its the sooper bowel...lol

    u are not fit to be a world class foot ball team, go home amrikan.....

    June 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CJ

    Are we on the metric system or what? Where do people keep pulling 15 BILLION from? You know that is more than twice the estimated world population, right?

    PS. Soccer is boring

    June 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. imran kadha

    it was most watched cuz all the laid of mexicans watched it

    June 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Speculator

    Khalid, oh you mean like Americans being the ones who landed on the moon and invented the airplane, cell phone, camera, laser, computer, internet, email? You mean like Americans having built the best schools in the world that the rest of the world hopes to join? You mean like Americans being the ones who have the highest salaries in the world and the most money and the biggest economy and most powerful military? If that is what you mean then I guess the conclusion that no nation that is so brilliant with such a wide selection of sports to choose from would ever choose to watch soccer is definitely correct.

    PS, without the US you wouldn't be here on the INTERNET typing on your probably DELL-made COMPUTER running on MICROSOFT operating system while comfortably enjoying the AIR CONDITIONING at home waiting for your food you bought at the SUPERMARKET to heat up in the MICROWAVE after you took it out of the REFRIGERATOR (all the words in CAPS indicate those came from the USA), would you? So take your smelly terrorist butt somewhere else.


    That being said, the thing I like about soccer is that is can be played by anyone regardless of how much money you have. All you need is a ball and that is beautiful for all the people who can't afford the protective gear and helmets of football, the padding and sticks of hockey, etc. However, the thing I hate about soccer, like most Americans, is the players faking injuries. Watching a grown man, not to mention an "athlete," fall to the ground, grab his knee, and start crying and pretending to be in great pain when the other player just toughed his jersey around his shoulder really makes people disgusted.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James Arron

    I personally watched the game and many of the others of this World Cup because let's face it it's hard to get a soccer match on TV in the United States. I'm no soccer fan, but it was fun to watch something different for a change... until this one. I'm personally not sure whether I'm going to watch another one. I certainly didn't watch England get their ass handed to them.

    What got me was the 'flopping'. I personally couldn't imagine anything as stupid and unsportsmanlike being prevalent in US sports (including soccer). We were losing at that point in the game, and I was just completely appalled at it that I couldn't even finish the rest of the game. I've had people tell me with a shrug that it's just part of the game and get over it, but I just can't. I'm more appalled that FIFA doesn't have rules against it. The one who got on the stretcher and jumped off was especially appalling. I've just never seen anything this stupid and unsportsmanlike in any sport — perhaps in exception to the 1994 Baseball Strike.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Christopher Hitchens

    How do you spell "soccer?" "Y-A-W-N."

    Who cares about any game where all you need is two dozen guys, a ball and a flat surface?

    Say what you will, but soccer is a peasant's game. That's why it's so popular around the planet. It's pure trash.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cavan

    It's not about NFL vs Soccer, it's about National pride.
    This team represented the United States on the world stage and did us proud.
    What a classy group of men!

    June 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. futbol addict

    NFL football is 60 min., but 2/3 of that is spent in the hurdle. So, you spend 3 1/2 hours watching NFL football, but the action is only 20 min or less than 10%. US-Ghana game lasted 120 min and you watched 120 min. of action no less.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KuKubird

    My soccer ball is bigger than you football!!!!

    June 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. futbol addict

    NFL football: over 6ft tall, 200-300 lbs, can't run for 10 min. continuously, requires armor to play.
    Real football: average height and weight, run for 90 min. continuously, requires only a ball.
    Conclusion: NFL football is for rich, spoiled and out of shape brats. Real football is for everyone.

    June 29, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. django

    ..at every opportunity the semi fascist American rears its head, no matter how many times you are told, they still think theyre the center of the Universe..America get over yourselves...this is a sport, the article is about ratings, the country is trending ethnic (check your Census reports, there are more minorities than whites in the country) and the 'World' would prefer you stay out of Soccer, its FIFA that is trying to open up the US market. I suspect a large reason for San Diego numbers is those racists were hoping for a win...guess what Ghana tuned you up twice...

    June 29, 2010 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
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