The final matchup of the 2018 World Cup failed to deliver the same kind of numbers seen by 2014’s final.
According to Nielsen data, the game between Croatia and France drew 11.3 million viewers on Fox and another 500,000 on Fox Sports for a total of 11.8 million. The 2014 final pulled in 17.3 million viewers on ABC, meaning this year’s game was down 32% in viewership.
There were, of course, multiple factors working against Sunday’s final. Given the significant time difference between host country Russia and the United States, the game aired early on Sunday morning. France also took an early lead in the game, ultimately winning 4-2, which likely led many to tune out early. The U.S. men’s team also failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup, which also no doubt contributed to some in the States avoiding the tournament this time out. Those factors will be of little comfort to Fox, however, who reportedly shelled out over $400 million dollars in 2011 for the rights to broadcast the games both in 2018 and 2022.
Meanwhile, the game drew record ratings on TF1, France’s leading commercial network. The network averaged 19.3 million viewers during the game, capturing an 82.2% market share.
The drop off in the World Cup ratings comes amid a much larger drop off in the linear ratings for major sporting events. Events like the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and the NCAA men’s basketball finals all saw noticeable declines in their linear numbers within the last year.