The World Cup: As Popular In The U.S. As The World Series?

World Cup viewership during day = World Series in primetime

Yesterday, Ken pointed out that more Americans are following the World Cup than live in the United Kingdom, a great stat to refute the notion that Americans don’t care about soccer. I’d like to add to that a fun little stat from the New York Times’ Sports Business column — as many Americans watched the USA v. Ghana Round of 16 match as watched the average game in the last World Series:

For the ESPN empire and Univision, any questions about the return on their investment in the World Cup are being answered by viewers. On Saturday, the United States’ loss to Ghana was seen by 14.9 million on ABC — an American record for the tournament — and an additional 4.5 million on Univision. That’s 19.4 million viewers for a Round of 16 game on a Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Eastern — the same number that Fox averaged over six prime-time games for last year’s World Series.

In fact, “through 52 games, ESPN’s average viewership is up 58 percent to 2.86 million; Univision’s is 2.1 million, up nearly 9 percent. Figure, then, that about five million are watching the games, comparable to the N.B.A. playoffs, excluding the finals, and the Stanley Cup finals.” The American Prospect’s Tim Fernholz submits that this means soccer’s time is here:

What intricate argument can be brought against these numbers? Tom Scocca blames Fox for making baseball boring to watch, but what they’ve done — playing games at night, have a lot of commercials, etc. — have been characteristic of baseball for a long time. If you care about baseball, you’re going to watch the World Series whether or not the games are long. Why not just admit it, soccer critics: Futbol is coming of age in America.

There’s little doubt in my mind that the World Series had been made (even more) mind-numbingly boring by the demands of television, which the structure of soccer tends to confound (no stoppages, so no commercials, for instance). In the localities for the teams involved, though, I’m willing to bet that the World Series isn’t lacking for viewers.

But still, this, combined with Ken’s point from yesterday, shows that there’s a sizable U.S. audience following the tournament, despite what the soccer haters say. And that’s a great thing for the future of the sport in America.

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3 Responses

  1. Hey guys. Take it easy with the politics! We all know you’re “progressives, ” but some of us aren’t. It’s dangerous to start alienating half of a potential audience with your politics, and sports should be kept separate from politics. You’ve already been had by the video you posted thinking it was real, but more importantly, it’s just plain dangerous, stupid and disingenuous to start claiming a national team as your own, or one for a certain political party and/or ideology. Before you know it, you will be no different than the very people you rail against, excluding people from rooting for the USMNT because they do not agree with you. I enjoy your site very much, have it bookmarked, and check it more than once a day, and have recommended it to others. Please don’t make me stop doing that. Keep your political views out of your commentary!

  2. These are enlightening numbers. The lazymedia narrative has been to point out that most people did not skip work to watch the games and somehow that means soccer has failed. Never mind that almost 2/3 of America didn’t watch the Super Bowl either. So what?

    @Drogba, it’s their blog, they can do whatever they want with it. But I would generally agree. The only people we should be trying to exclude from supporting the national team are the outright racists and fascists and maybe those anarchist types that don’t think they should have to pay for anything. They’re really irritating Everyone else should see it as an opportunity to find common ground and be inspired by the Eplurbusunumity of it all.

    I don’t think all conservatives are intent on hating soccer, but the sort of people who reflexively hate soccer are more likely to be conservative (and stupid), because the sort of people who reflexively hate anything they aren’t familiar with are, pretty much by definition, conservative (and stupid).

  3. Your logic is weak, Reed. It’s the same as saying that liberals are a more loving and open people.

    Not really.

    The simply fact is, Conservatives hate the unknown (think foreigners, ideas from across the world), and Liberals love the unknown (the same 😉 ).

    But you can switch it around and say Conservatives love the known, and Liberals hate the unknown.

    Just look at the liberal bile they like to spew at the south, having never been here, whenever something stupid happens here. But when idiots hang a noose at some northeastern college professor’s office for example, you never hear references to their own racist history. Instead, it’s treated more like a petty and disgusting crime, but not one that needs historians to comment on it.

    So, if Soccer was *our* sport and an American Football sport was starting to become popular, then liberals (the types who say we should watch soccer because everyone else in the world does – weak argument) would be rooting for the American Football lookalike. And conservatives would be attacking it as some barbaric Euro commie thing.

    Both sides are stupid, is basically what I’m saying. (I would still rather be a liberal than a conservative though, but I like being pragmatic and a regular ol soccer fan well enough). 🙂

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