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.