Does America Now Like Soccer? World Cup Ratings Hint at It

U.S.-Belgium got a 9.6 rating on ESPN, 1.8 on Univision

Yes, that's it for the U.S. in the World Cup, but we went out with a bang: ESPN boasted its second-highest rating ever for a soccer match with a whopping 9.6 (people are watching during the day, so from your boss, shame on you, and, from the networks, thank you). Univision generated a 1.8 (representing 2.4 million viewers).

The latter's streaming video didn't crack under the strain of its mammoth viewership (ESPN had a brief outage during the Germany-Algeria match two days ago, but that still reached 1.7 million concurrent viewers) with a new high watermark of 1.8 million. It helps Univision's streaming numbers in particular that its digital service is free and unauthenticated (until midnight, at least).

The contest has been a major moment for U.S. soccer fandom, which in recent years hasn't exactly been an area of major focus and concern for marketers. But the 2014 contests have been a huge attention-getter for brands, including sponsors like Visa, Coke, Adidas and Sony. Other Johnny-come-latelies are capitalizing on whatever meme they can attach to their brand during a given game (check out our compendium of waffle jokes from yesterday, for example).

Ruling the rapid-response promo roost, however, has been ESPN, which started off with an over-the-top Kiefer Sutherland paean to America (never mind that he's Canadian) and came out yesterday with this gem:

The Americans lost, but still: USA! USA! USA!—strictly in terms of TV and digital viewership, of course.