Nearly 25 Million Watch USA-Portugal Match on ESPN, Univision

USA Portugal World Cup Ratings
Warren Little/Getty Images

UPDATE: ESPN drew a whopping 18.22 million viewers for Sunday’s USA-Portugal match, making it the most-watched soccer game ever in the U.S. — surpassing the 1999 Women’s World Cup final between USA and China (17.98 million on ABC). The first game featuring the U.S. in this World Cup, held on a Monday when many were at work, drew 11.09 million.

Univision drew 6.5 million total viewers, also well above its USA-Ghana total (4.8 million) and the largest audience ever for a USA match on the Spanish-language network.

Combined, Sunday’s match attracted 24.72 million viewers in the States — easily a record. Four years ago, the USA-England match drew a combined 17.1 million on ESPN and Univision.


The numbers continue to go up for the World Cup, as Sunday’s USA-Portugal match earned the highest-ever overnight ratings for a World Cup match on ESPN.

According to Nielsen estimates, the late-afternoon contest averaged a 9.1 household rating, meaning about 1 in 11 U.S. homes were watching the game, which ended in a 2-2 draw thanks to a very late Portugal score.

The previous high for a World Cup contest on ESPN was the 7.0 rating for the USA-Ghana matchup earlier in the Group Play round — a game that ended up averaging more than 11 million viewers in the nationals.

The 9.1 rating ties with the 2010 USA-Ghana second-round match, which aired on ABC. The only matches to fare better on ABC were the 1994 World Cup Final (12.8 overnight for Brazil-Italy in a tournament played in the U.S.) and the second-round USA-Brazil match from that same year (10.4 rating).

In social media, roughly 10 million people worldwide accounted for about 20 million Facebook interactions related to Sunday’s USA-Portugal tussle. The most discussed moment of the match was Clint Dempsey’s goal late in the second half that gave the United States a 2-1 lead.

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  1. alex says:

    The best sport in the world is women beach volley .

  2. Messi fanatic says:

    These numbers were on a late weekend afternoon, in the sports gap. No Football ,no Hockey,no Basketball, too early in baseball , perfect storm for great ratings, great close game, fabulous sport for congregating with friends. If we keep getting better The World Cup will be second to only Super Bowl.

  3. poquimoqui says:

    I would love to see it compared to other popular sporting events in the USA.

  4. Franklin says:

    “the late-afternoon contest averaged a 9.1 household rating, meaning about 1 in 11 U.S. homes were watching the game”

    With the 3.2 Rating on Univision, the combined viewership was 12.3. Meaning 1 household in 8 was watching.

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