ESPN said Thursday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup match between the U.S. and Germany yielded its highest-ever online viewership — with 3.2 million live unique viewers — even though the heavy demand blocked many from accessing the sports cabler’s live stream.
ESPN’s reported figure surpasses NBC Sports’ 2.1 million unique users for the USA-Canada men’s hockey semifinal during the 2014 Winter Olympics earlier this year, which would make the USA-Germany World Cup match the most-streamed sports event in the U.S. to date. WatchESPN requires users to log in to verify their pay-TV subscription, as did the NBC Olympics digital service.
Univision Communications, which holds the Spanish-language World Cup broadcast rights in the U.S., reported a record 1.7 million unique viewers for its Internet stream of the USA-Germany content, with a peak of 750,000 concurrent live viewers, on its unauthenticated service.
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In addition, Akamai Technologies, a major content-delivery network provider, said the Thursday soccer action marked a company record for live-streaming video. The USA-Germany and Ghana-Portugal matches combined to peak at 6.8 terabits per second of bandwidth consumed worldwide, the company said. The previous high-water mark was the June 17 match between Mexico and Brazil at 4.59 Tbps.
For ESPN, the USA-Germany match logged 143 million total live minutes viewed over the Internet with a peak of 1.7 million concurrent users during the game, for 1.05 million average minute audience. The online viewing, according to ESPN, provided a 10% lift to the TV audience, which averaged a 6.3 overnight household rating from roughly noon to 2 p.m. ET. The match’s noon Eastern start time during a weekday helped push up Internet viewing metrics; Sunday’s USA-Ghana game turned in ESPN’s best-ever ratings for a soccer telecast on TV.
Univision Digital registered 86 million minutes streamed for 605,000 viewers during an average minute for USA-Germany.
To date for the World Cup, the WatchESPN service is averaging 737,000 unique viewers and 31.1 million total minutes per match, according to the programmer. Through the first 48 matches, unique viewers are up 149% and total viewing minutes are up 143% versus 2010.