Any lingering doubts about Americans' interest in soccer were dispelled Monday when Nielsen released figures indicated that Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands attracted 24.3 million viewers, who tuned in to the match on ABC and Univision. It was the most-watched soccer game ever on U.S. television and left other, more "traditional" sports championship games in the dust -- even though many of those were played in primetime. The deciding Game 6 of last year's World Series, for example, attracted 22.3 million viewers. This year's final game in hockey's Stanley Cup drew 8.28 million viewers -- making it the most-watched NHL game in 36 years. Game 7 of the NBA finals exceeded the World Cup match, but not by much. It averaged 28.2 million viewers, also a record. (Of course, nothing comes close to the Super Bowl, whose 106.5 million viewers this year made it the most-watched telecast in the history of the medium.) ABC's coverage of the World Cup contest, in which Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0, was watched by 15.5 million viewers; Univision's coverage added an additional 8.8 million. In reporting on the ratings results, Daily Variety observed today (Tuesday) "The viewership gains boil down to increased advertising revenue and sponsor interest in the soccer, which ensures that ESPN will bid aggressively for rights to future World Cup tourneys."

13/07/2010