Univision Nets Ratings Gold With Mexico-U.S. Final

Nearly 8 million fans tune in for soccer grudge match

Just as fans of the Mexican national soccer team outnumbered supporters of Team USA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, so did Univision best Fox Soccer Channel in the Gold Cup ratings race.

The Spanish-language network’s coverage of the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup Final delivered 7.98 million total viewers, marking a 48 percent improvement from the 5.38 million viewers who tuned in for the most recent final in 2009.

As was the case on Saturday, the Gold Cup Final of two years ago featured USA and Mexico. The visiting team stomped the host nation 5-0, in front of a capacity crowd at the old Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

At first blush, Saturday night’s match appeared to be a much more even affair, as the American team took an early 1-0 lead on a Michael Bradley header. Fifteen minutes later, Landon Donovan put the U.S. up 2-0 as he converted an artful assist from Clint Dempsey.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill after that. Three minutes after Donovan put the ball into the back of the net, Mexico notched its first goal. An equalizer followed some seven minutes later, and Mexico pushed through two more scores in the second half for an easy 4-2 victory.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley noted after the game that the overwhelming number of green-shirted partisans in the stands made it seem like a home game for Mexico. (An estimated 80 percent of the 93,420 fans in attendance were supporting the visiting squad.) 

That disparity was reflected in the ratings. Univision’s broadcast drew 4.72 million viewers in the adult 18-49 demo, topping Game 7 of the Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup Final on NBC (4.44 million).

Fox Soccer Channel, which broadcast the game for an English-speaking audience, averaged 1.1 million viewers Saturday night between 8:37 p.m. and 11:02 p.m. EDT. In other words, Univision’s overall delivery was more than seven times that notched by FSC’s coverage.

Saturday’s match now ranks as the third-most watched sporting event in Univision history, trailing only the 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match between Mexico and Argentina (9.36 million) and last year’s title match (Spain v. Netherlands, 8.82 million viewers).