Updated July 30 with official post-World Cup figures.
As everyone gets ready for Thursday afternoon's U.S.-Belgium game in the round of 16 at the World Cup, I thought I'd pass along some interesting stats on television and online viewership for the Americans' three group stage games.
I added up the reported television and online audiences for ESPN and Univision's broadcasts of the games against Ghana, Portugal and Germany, and got a per-game average of 19,461,000 viewers.
I have written already about the viewership figures for the Ghana and Portugal games. Now that the data for the Germany game is finalized, here's a chart breaking down all the numbers:
||TV only total
||Online only total
The online viewership figure is based on average minute audience, which has become the industry-standard metric. In my last few posts I wrote about how the industry hasn't really had a standard metric before. But the popularity of the World Cup and the strength of online viewership during the tournament has helped television companies to coalesce around a single measurement.
That will help everyone get a better understanding of just how popular this World Cup has become.
ESPN comfirmed that the U.S.-Germany game was its third-most-watched World Cup game of all time, which means it can be given a place in the all-time ranking of English-language television broadcasts.
Unfortunately, it can't be given a place in the all-time ranking of most-watched soccer broadcasts on TV. The 2010 U.S.-Ghana game currently holds the last known place in the standings, with 17.1 million viewers. It's not known how many games would sit between the two contests.
Sunday's Mexico-Netherlands game almost got there, as it drew a combined 16,971,000 viewers on ESPN and Univision. ESPN had 6,571,000 and Univision had 10,400,000. Univision's audience was its largest for any program of any kind, sports or not, in the network's entire history.
If you include the online audience, Mexico-Netherlands does jump over the 2010 U.S.-Ghana game. ESPN hasn't reported its average minute audience yet, but we know Univision's was 303,000. That is enough to overcome the small difference.
So here are the latest rankings. I have included online streaming audiences this time, because of the accuracy of the average minute audience statistic. For the 2010 men's World Cup and the 2011 women's World Cup, that metric was not used; ESPN instead used total unique viewers, which is not the equivalent of average TV viewership.
Games from this year's World Cup are highlighted in bold.
1. United States vs. Portugal 2014 World Cup group stage: 15.710 million viewers on ESPN and online (Sunday, June 22) 1
2. United States vs. China 1999 Women's World Cup final: 17.975 million viewers on ABC (Saturday, July 10)
3. Netherlands vs. Spain 2010 World Cup final: 15.905 million viewers on ABC (Sunday, July 11)
4. United States vs. Ghana 2010 World Cup round of 16: 15.193 million viewers on ABC (Saturday, June 26)
5. Italy vs. Brazil 1994 World Cup final on ABC: 14.510 million viewers on ABC (Sunday, July 17)
6. Brazil vs. United States 1994 World Cup round of 16: 13.694 million on ABC (Monday, July 4)
7. United States vs. Japan 2011 Women's World Cup final: 13.458 million viewers on ESPN (Sunday, July 17)
8. United States vs. England 2010 World Cup group stage: 13.130 million viewers on ABC (Saturday, June 12)
9. Italy vs. France 2006 World Cup final on ABC: 11.961 million viewers on ABC (Sunday, July 9)
10. United States vs. Germany 2014 group stage: 11.821 million viewers on ESPN and online (Thursday, June 26, 2014) 1
11. United States vs. Ghana 2014 group stage: 11.562 million viewers on ESPN (Monday, June 17, 2014) 3
1 - 18,220,000 on TV; 490,000 on ESPN's website and apps
2 - 10,771,000 on TV; 1,050,000 on ESPN's website and apps
3 - 11,093,000 on TV; 469,000 on ESPN's website and apps
1. United States vs. Portugal 2014 World Cup group stage: 26.035 million viewers on ESPN, Univision and online (Sunday, June 22) 1
2. Netherlands vs. Spain 2010 World Cup Final: 24.7 million viewers on ABC and Univision (Saturday, July 10)
3. United States vs. Ghana 2010 World Cup round of 16: 19.4 million viewers on ABC and Univision (Saturday, June 26)
4. Brazil vs. Italy 1994 World Cup final: 18.1 million viewers on ABC and Univision (Sunday, July 17)
5. United States vs. China 1999 Women's World Cup final: 18.0 million viewers on ABC (Saturday, July 10)
6. Netherlands vs. Mexico 2014 World Cup round of 16: 17.274 million on ESPN, Univision and online (Sunday, June 29) 2
7. United States vs. England 2010 World Cup group stage: 17.1 million on ABC and Univision (Saturday, June 12)
1 - 18,220,000 on ESPN; 490,000 on ESPN's website and apps; 6,544,000 on Univision; 248,000 on Univision's website and apps
2 - 6,571,000 on ESPN; 10,400,000 on Univision; 303,000 on Univision's website and apps