USMNT TV Ratings

Submitted by MGoBender on June 25th, 2010 at 10:54 PM

TV ratings have been through the roof so far.  This isn't really a surprise, but awesome to see nonetheless.  The US-England game rated higher than Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and higher than any of the first 5 games of the NBA finals (if I recall correctly).  What would be nice is a fancy...

Chart?  Ok, sure, a chart.

Game and Time Millions of Viewers
USA v. England (2:30pm EST, Saturday 6/12) 17.1
USA v. Slovenia (10am EST, Friday 6/18) 7.5
USA v. Algeria (10am EST, Wednesday 6/23) 8.4

My first, tame question is: Does tomorrow's game out-draw the England game?  Ghana isn't the motherland, but it's the knockout stages and people are in full World Cup fever.  Does it hit 20M?  25?  30?

Now larger picture: ESPN dumped the money into this World Cup and has got the results they were looking for.  This must lead to more soccer coverage right?  Better awareness of WC qualifiers from the world-wide leader, nice cushy spots atop sportscenter, better coverage of La Liga and the EPL, etc, etc.  American soccer fans can only hope.

Also, I find it remarkably awesome that 8.4 million people tuned into the game in the middle of a Wednesday workday.  How much money did companies across the country lose for those two hours?

Comments

FGB

June 25th, 2010 at 11:10 PM ^

but they know what they're doing.  More than this World Cup, Euro 2008 really showed what a powerhouse soccer programming can be for them.  (Obviously) the US wasn't even involved, nor England, but it got very good ratings.  And I believe their EPL broadcasts have been doing well (for a poor time slot).

Unfortunately, if we're talking about developing interest in the game on home soil, the disconnect is with MLS.  I'm sure they'll get a temporary boost in ratings this summer, but I really don't think it'll be sustained.

I don't mean to start an MLS discussion since it's a whole separate ball of wax, but the point is that I think the big international competitions will continue to be a big ratings draw going forward (Euro, WC, Gold Cup finals) as well as Champs League or Big 4 EPL fixtures, but other than those top tier competitions which are not week-in-week-out, I don't know that soccer will really take hold as the fourth or fifth sport until MLS becomes a staple and there are soccer highlights people care about on a consistent basis.

grand river fi…

June 26th, 2010 at 12:47 AM ^

  More than this World Cup, Euro 2008 really showed what a powerhouse soccer programming can be for them.  (Obviously) the US wasn't even involved, nor England, but it got very good ratings.  And I believe their EPL broadcasts have been doing well (for a poor time slot).

That took the words right out of my mouth.  But still those numbers for the US games are fantastic, and things like more Americans watching the US-England game then live in a "big soccer country" like the Netherlands goes to show how needless these arguments about soccer taking over are.

 I think the big international competitions will continue to be a big ratings draw going forward (Euro, WC, Gold Cup finals) as well as Champs League or Big 4 EPL fixtures,

I agree, and this is really my hope because as a fan I just want more access to more games.  My hope is that we'll be getting more Premiership, La Liga, and various major european games broadcast over here, but when you see EPLtalks ratings for ESPNs broadcasts of the Premiership compared to what the World Cup is drawing it's startling. 

dpb

June 26th, 2010 at 1:52 AM ^

I know you tried to avoid it, but I'll throw in my opinion of soccer in the country - MLS has been steadily growing and will continue to grow.  It's hard to say when, but I wouldn't be surprised if we are talking about the MLS as clearly in the #5 spot, and competing with NHL for being considered the fourth sport in the country in the next five or so years.  To be fair, I may be overly optimistic, I am hoping for more popularity for the MLS, as more more will raise the quality.

MLS has had a steady climb in attendance in the past few years, and any temporary boost in attendance can be really beneficial, as I think watching a soccer game live is a unique experience, and some of the temporary boost will become permanent fans.

Crossing my fingers, at least.

FGB

June 26th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

that MLS is rising generally:  in terms of quality, attendance, interest.  And I would probably give it more than 5 years, but I tend to think that if they handle development and growth of the league properly, then it will eventually be the 5th sport for sure, with at least as much publicity as NASCAR (it may not have as many fans, but it appeals to wider base).

But I also believe that if MLS growth is not handled carefully, and is rushed too quickly with a huge cap increase and more and more "star" players, it could easily turn into NASL and go out of business.  It only just became profitable in the last couple years. 

My mantra would be:  Patience, Patience, Patience.  The risk of rushing MLS and potentially killing it is not worth the reward of becoming a major US sport a few years before it would otherwise be there.

If we can get WC 2022, then MLS should set that as the target year for the league having moved fully into the mainstream (maybe not NHL level, but on par with, say, golf, or tennis majors in terms of general public interest and recognition of players)

Tim

June 26th, 2010 at 8:57 AM ^

Unfortunately, if we're talking about developing interest in the game on home soil, the disconnect is with MLS.  I'm sure they'll get a temporary boost in ratings this summer, but I really don't think it'll be sustained.

MLS has got to be PISSED that France (and MLS's rumored newest star, Thierry Henry) went out in the group stage. If they'd made the knockout rounds, and especially if Henry had been successful in the Cup, they would have had a huge boost.

I wonder if it would be a good idea, the year of every World Cup, to go without a salary cap. They could do it just for the second half of the season (i.e. the part after the World Cup). They would draw some big names, at least before the European seasons start and those players go off loan, and back to their regular club teams.

FGB

June 26th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

Have some actual star players come over for a couple months.  Imagine if Deigo Forlan could capitalize on this WC by spending a few weeks here.  I'm sure he'd love the publicity, and Atletico Madrid probably would as well. 

It would be a great way to have more than just washed up world class players, or "stars" who are great players but not household names (e.g. Blaise Nkufo from the Swiss national team is going to Seattle, and he's a fine player and probably better than most MLS players, but the cachet is not there and that matters for selling tickets to an uninitiated public)

Unfortunately, it would never happen because the timing is just bad....no clubs would let their players go an entire year without any time off, especially in a WC/Euro year, when they're playing all of June.  If the players came over, they would be so tired that it would only be a glorified exhibition, with less than full effort and a few highlight reel free kicks (cough, Beckham, cough).  There's also a question of whether that turns the league into a bit of a circus show, as opposed to a legitimate league.

MGoShoe

June 25th, 2010 at 11:57 PM ^

...at tsn.com talking about the Saturday game's ratings prospects (includes ESPN's own ratings release):

ESPN has been boasting that the overall ratings are 50% higher than in 2006 and that the U.S. match against England shattered all sorts of records for ABC, with the Algeria match breaking every record in the history of ESPN for soccer. People have indeed been watching, but those ratings will be nothing compared to this Saturday. 

Sure the U.S. win over Mexico in 2002 is still the most important win – with the subsequent match against Germany the most important match – in the team's World Cup history. But there's a chance that twice as many people could be watching the match tomorrow. Seriously, no pressure:

Wednesday morning’s United States vs. Algeria FIFA World Cup match on ESPN is the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game in the history of ESPN networks, delivering a 4.6 rating (4.0 household U.S. rating), 4,582,000 households and 6,161,000 viewers for the two-hour contest (10 a.m. ET - noon). The previous households record was set five days earlier with the U.S.-Slovenia match (June 18) – 3,906,000. Excluding holidays, ESPN's coverage of the U.S.-Algeria game ranks as the most-watched weekday morning telecast ever for ESPN, surpassing the U.S.- Germany World Cup match from eight years ago (June 21, 2002) – 4.4 rating and 5,335,000 viewers.

It's important to remember that the 2002 win over Mexico in the second round was in the middle of the night on a Sunday heading into Monday, while the loss to Germany came at 7 a.m. ET on a Friday. This is 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Landon Donovan's goal was "the moment" for U.S. soccer, but if they want to capitalize on that moment, tomorrow is a must win. Everyone, after all, will be watching now.

Yeah, this game is going to get huge ratings and if they win, the pressure on the Yanks is going to continue to mount to eleven and beyond.

Shaqsquatch

June 26th, 2010 at 1:43 AM ^

I have a feeling tomorrow's game will trump England. While England was definitely the most hyped opponent we had in the group stage, the number of viewers was so drastically high because it was a weekend, and not at 9:30 AM or earlier in the US. Tomorrow's game will be the same time as the England game, allowing many more viewers to tune in.

Nieme08

June 26th, 2010 at 1:47 AM ^

i don't really understand how they come up with these ratings, so i'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but how can they account for the thousands of people at bars around the country watching the games?

dpb

June 26th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

A lot of the ratings I've read come with the caveat that they don't take into account mass audiences - exactly what you are talking about.  I assume those are more difficult to estimate, and I have a feeling soccer has one of the biggest bar crowds of any sport.  Don't know if these numbers account for these or not.

mgowake

June 26th, 2010 at 10:04 AM ^

I used to have a Nielsen box, but I don't claim to be an expert on the subject. It's not perfect, of course, but it's possible for Nielsen to figure out the fire code capacity of every bar they have a box in. Just like they know every home's occupancy when they sign you up. Then, I'd imagine they take their sample and apply it to the US population. I bet if you looked closer at the numbers there'd be a standard deviation in there somewhere.

MAgoBLUE

June 26th, 2010 at 8:38 AM ^

the best thing the sport has going for it in terms of how it appeals to an American audience is no commercials.  It's so refreshing not to get attacked with ads.  The biggest downside is the lack of goals/scoring chances.  The American attention span has to be among the shortest in the world

wolverinehusker

June 26th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

I used to agree with the sentiment that few goals = no fun, but the America/Algeria game really put that in perspective. There were no goals for 91 minutes but I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I don't think Americans care about there not being goals, I think we just don't like ties. As long as the game ends with a winner I think the payoff is worth the low score. I mean, the 2-1 Uruguay - South Korea game was 100x better than the 7-0 Portugal - North Korea game, goals be damned.