Team USA may have been eliminated a few weeks ago, but Americans remained interested in this year’s World Cup to the end.
Sunday’s FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina averaged an impressive 26.5 million viewers on ABC and Univision, according to Nielsen — surpassing the 24.7 million who watched the USA-Portugal match on June 22. Both ABC (17.3 million) and Univision (9.2 million) delivered their largest audiences ever for a World Cup contest.
The combined 26.5 million for Germany’s 1-0 victory is a larger audience than the deciding game for the most recent World Series on Fox (19.2 million) and NBA Finals on ABC (18.0 million), and also tops the BCS Championship game in college football on ESPN in January (25.6 million).
For ABC, the 17.3 million ranks third among all English-language soccer matches in the U.S., behind only the 18.2 million for USA-Portugal last month and the 18 million for the Women’s World Cup Final against China in 1999.
The top 10 markets for Germany-Argentina on ABC were Washington, D.C. (15.4), San Diego (13.4), Los Angeles (13.0), San Francisco (13.0), Orlando (12.6), New York (12.5), Sacramento (12.0), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (11.5), West Palm Beach (10.8) and Las Vegas (10.7). Through all 64 matches on the ESPN Networks, the top-rated markets were Washington, D.C. (4.9), New York (4.6), San Francisco (4.4) and Los Angeles and San Diego (both 4.0).
In addition to ABC’s telecast, the final match on WatchESPN generated 1,800,000 live unique viewers, 112,100,000 live minutes viewed and the highest time spent per viewer (63 minutes) of any match of the 2014 World Cup. Sunday’s final on WatchESPN provided a 4% lift to the English-language television viewership on ABC with an average minute audience of 657,000 viewers.
At its highest point, the ABC telecast averaged 20.78 million viewers from 5 to 5:30 p.m ET.
Univision, which set U.S. Spanish-language World Cup ratings record in each round of this tournament, ended up about 35% ahead of 2010 in average viewership. The network’s coverage reached 80.9 million viewers, a whopping 65% more than 2010 (49.1 million).
In social media, Facebook reported 88 million people globally had more than 280 million Facebook interactions (posts, comments, and likes) related to the World Cup, breaking the record for a sporting event, previously held by the Super Bowl in 2013 (145 million).
The 88 million included 10.5 million people in the United States, 10 million people in Brazil, more than 7 million in Argentina, and about 5 million in Germany.
According to Nielsen Twitter estimates, the World Cup final garnered 4.9 million event-related Tweets on Sunday. Among all telecasts for the week, only the lopsided Germany-Brazil semifinal (5.7 million Tweets) was a more popular subject.