USA-England Draws Record Crowd for ABC

Saturday’s much anticipated USA-England match drew 13 million viewers on ABC, making it the most-watched first round World Cup game in US broadcast history.

Including a 60-minute pre-game show, Saturday’s three-hour (1:30-4:30 p.m. EDT) broadcast served up 10.8 million total viewers, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings. The USA-England match now stands as the fifth most-watched FIFA World Cup telecast, trailing only the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final (USA v. China, 18 million viewers); the 1994 Brazil-Italy final (14.5 million); a 1994 round-of-16 game (USA-Brazil, 13.7 million) and the 2006 Italy-France final (12 million).

All five of the aforementioned games were broadcast on ABC.

Through the first two days of play, ESPN and ABC are averaging 4.94 million viewers, more than double (108 percent) the nets’ average deliveries in the opening five games of the 2006 World Cup. Through Saturday, ESPN’s most-watched game was the June 12 Argentina-Nigeria match, which averaged 3.73 million viewers.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup is off to a tremendous start for ESPN,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vp, content. “Strong viewership on television and other platforms…and the overwhelmingly positive reaction we are receiving from fans demonstrate the enormous popularity of this global sports event and how ESPN is uniquely positioned to cover it.”
USA battled England to a 1-1 draw, on a slippery 25-yard shot by midfielder Clint Dempsey, which skittered out of the arms of England keeper Robert Green and across the goal line. The match also aired on Univision, where it delivered 4.11 million viewers.

Through the first five games of the 2010 tourney, Univision has averaged 3.16 million total viewers, of which 1.87 million were members of the core 18-49 demo.