UPDATE: In Nielsen nationals released on Friday afternoon, Thursday’s USA-Germany match averaged 10.77 million viewers on ESPN. That makes it the third most-watched men’s World Cup game ever on the cable network — behind only the 18.22 million for this month’s USA-Portugal contest and the 11.09 million for USA-Ghana.

The game peaked with 12.06 million from 1:30 to 2 p.m. ET.

ESPN has generated its largest viewership ever for the 48 opening-round World Cup matches, averaging 3.54 million viewers for its 48 games. This is 46% more viewers than the 2010 World Cup (2.43 million) and more than double the 2006 event’s first round (1.69 million).

Univision averaged roughly 3.4 million viewers for Thursday’s game, bringing the U.S. total to about 14.2 million. Through the first round of the World Cup tournament, the network was averaging a best-ever 2.9 million viewers.


As would be expected, Thursday’s early start time cut into viewership of ESPN’s coverage of Team USA’s match against Germany in the World Cup, but it helped draw more viewers to the net’s online streaming of the game.

According to Nielsen estimates, Germany’s 1-0 victory averaged a 6.3 overnight household rating from roughly noon to 2 p.m. ET — down from the 9.1 for USA-Portugal on Sunday and the 7.0 for USA-Ghana on Monday, June 16. Still, this makes it the third-highest rating ever for a men’s World Cup match on ESPN.

The rating peaked at a 9.5 from 1:45-2 p.m. ET.

WatchESPN set a platform record with 1.7 million peak concurrent viewers, as the match was likely a big draw at offices across the country, including the West Coast where the contest began at the start of the workday. This more than doubled the previous high for WatchESPN of 750,000 concurrent streams for last week’s Brazil-Mexico tussle.

Despite the early start time, West Coast markets continue to be well represented among the top-rated nationally. According to Nielsen, the top 10 metered markets were: New York (9.7), San Diego (8.6), Sacramento (8.3), Seattle/Tacoma (8.1), Orlando (8.1), Baltimore (8.1), Columbus (8.1), West Palm Beach (7.9), Providence (7.6), San Francisco (7.2) and Austin (7.2).

Total-viewer estimates for Thursday’s World Cup match will be released later today by Nielsen. The USA-Ghana match attracted 11.1 million viewers on ESPN (and 4.8 million more on Univision), and the USA-Portugal game drew 18.2 million on ESPN and 6.5 million on Univision.