An estimated 20.3 million Americans watched on television as the United States beat Japan in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, setting a record for U.S. viewership of a soccer match, according to preliminary TV ratings data.
The previous record was sent last year when an estimated 18.2 million U.S. television viewers watched the U.S. men’s team tie Portugal on ESPN during the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Nielsen figures showed that Sunday’s game, which was broadcast live on Fox, was by far the most-watched TV broadcast of the night. Fox’s post-match live discussion drew a whopping 14.6 million people, according to Nielsen.
According to a release from Fox, the game scored the the highest metered market rating ever for a soccer game in the U.S. on a single network, surpassing the previous mark set for the Women’s World Cup final between the USA and China in 1999 on ABC (13.3 mm rating).
Additional metered market highlights for Japan-USA:
- Match rating +77 percent over the 8.6 recorded by ESPN for the USA vs. Japan Women’s World Cup final in 2011
- The match’s metered market audience peaked at 18.3/31 from 8:45-9:00 PM ET which included the USA’s winning celebration
- The top 5 local markets for the match: Kansas City (20.6/35), St. Louis (20.5/33), San Diego (19.5/41), Denver (19.4/36) and Austin (19.1/37)
While some 17 million American viewers tuned in to the 7 p.m. ET start of Sunday’s game, that number quickly grew to 21.86 million an hour later — and reached 22.86 million at 8:30 p.m. ET, according to preliminary data from industry website TV Media Insights.
Those figures are comparable to the 2014 World Series’ Game 7, which attracted 23.5 million viewers — far more than any other game of the 2014 series.
This year’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on ABC averaged about 19.94 million viewers, the highest number for that event since 1998 (Michael Jordan’s last title). The concluding Game 6 drew about 23.3 million viewers, according to Neilsen.
This year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks drew 114.4 million U.S. viewers.