Brazil-Germany champ match was most-watched

Nearly 1.5 billion TV viewers watched last month’s 2002 World Cup soccer tourney in the 18 markets measured by Nielsen Media Research, according to the final audience estimates released Tuesday.

Thailand, with a combined total of 269 million viewers, took the top spot narrowly beating South Korea’s 266 million viewers and China’s 263 million viewers.

South Korea, co-hosts with Japan, was the tourney ratings winner capturing an average 16% of the potential aud for all matches.

South Koreans caught World Cup fever from the start. More than 14 million, or 56% of the aud, tuned in to watch their national team defeat Poland 2-0 on June 4 — by far the largest aud to watch a World Cup match in a single country.

Highest aud for final

The most-watched match was the June 30 final from Yokohama, Japan. Nearly 63 million people saw Brazil defeat Germany 2-0 to take the title. In the U.S., a gross audience of more than 85 million, or an average 1.3 million per match, watched the World Cup.

The largest U.S. audience for a single match was the nearly 7 million viewers combined for all telecasts who saw Germany defeat USA 1-0 in the quarterfinals on June 21. That game was broadcast live on ESPN and replayed on ABC.

The June 17 match between the USA and Mexico drew the largest Hispanic aud in the U.S. — nearly 4.5 million people or 13% of the audience.

The match, won by the USA 2-0, was telecast live on Univision at 2:30 a.m. and rebroadcast by Telefutura at 10 a.m.

The entire World Cup attracted nearly 80 million Hispanic viewers in the U.S., or an average of 1.2 million per match, for an average rating of 4%. Nielsen Media Research tracks Hispanic audiences separately from overall U.S. audiences.

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