UPDATE: USA’s victory over Japan in the Women’s World Cup title game has crushed the U.S. ratings record for soccer.
Nielsen estimates that Fox Sports averaged 25.4 million viewers for Sunday’s lopsided 5-2 result, which gave the U.S. its third Women’s World Cup championship. Viewership peaked with about 31 million from 8:30-8:45 p.m. ET.
The 25.4 million tune-in was a huge 88% higher than that for ESPN’s coverage of the same women’s teams in the 2011 title game (13.5 million) and 41% higher than the United States-China women’s championship game on ESPN in 1999 (18 million) — the two other times the U.S. reached the final.
It also shatters the previous English-language viewership record for soccer in the United States, set last year when 18.2 million watched the U.S.-Portugal contest on ESPN in the group-play round of the Men’s World Cup. Add in the roughly 1.3 million watching on Telemundo — the largest-ever audience for a women’s soccer match on a Spanish-language network — and Sunday’s match attracted 26.7 million viewers in the States.
By comparison, the recent NBA Finals on ABC peaked with 23.25 million viewers for its sixth and final game. And no NBA game has drawn a larger audience since 2010. Similarly, no Major League Baseball game has drawn more viewers since the 2004 World Series.
Excluding the NFL postseason, the only higher-rated sporting events in the U.S. this year were the three games of the College Football Championship on ESPN (33.25 million for Ohio State-Oregon in the title game and more than 28 million for two semifinal games) and the men’s college basketball title game on CBS in April between Duke and Wisconsin (28.26 million).
The USA’s 5-2 victory over Japan on Sunday in the Women’s World Cup final has set a new ratings high for a soccer telecast in the U.S.
Fox Sports reports that the 7-9 p.m. ET telecast averaged a 15.2 household rating/27 share in Nielsen’s 56 overnight metered markets. According to Fox, that marks a new high for a soccer telecast on a single network, topping the previous mark set in 1999 when the USA women last claimed the World Cup in a victory over China.
According to Fox, Sunday’s overnights are up 77% over ESPN’s telecast of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, when Japan beat the USA. The game proved a star-making showcase for USA player Carli Lloyd (pictured), who scored three goals within the first 20 minutes of play.
Sunday’s viewership peaked in the final 15 minutes of the telecast at 18.3/31.
The top five markets for the game were in the Midwest and Southwest: Kansas City (20.6/35), St. Louis (20.5/33), San Diego (19.5/41), Denver (19.4/36) and Austin (19.1/37).
In social media, the game drew 3.4 million Tweets in the U.S. that were seen by a unique audience of 11.1 million people, according to Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. And roughly 9 million people had 20 million Facebook interactions related to the Women’s World Cup Final. After the United States, the most active countries on Facebook were Mexico, England, Canada and Brazil.
Soccer dominated the first half of primetime on Sunday, cutting into the ratings for 8 p.m. firstrun series “Big Brother” on CBS (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) and “Celebrity Family Feud” on ABC (1.5/5 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall), both of which hit season lows in Nielsen’s preliminary national estimates. Following “Family Feud” on ABC, “Battlebots” also posted its lowest scores to date (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall).