16.8 million viewers tuned in to the England-United States game on American television, broadcast on Saturday afternoon: 13 million on ABC, and 3.8 million on Univision.
17.65 million viewers tuned in to the same game on English television, broadcast in primetime on ITV.
America, as you may well know, has many more people than England. But the next time the World Cup is broadcast live in primetime on American television, which should be in four years when it is hosted in Brazil, American television numbers will undoubtedly be substantially higher than any nation in Europe’s. According to Media Life Magazine, ratings on U.S. television are up 80% from the 2006 World Cup (of course, this is helped so far by both Mexico and the U.S. having played already). The rising trend will continue, and it will help if many games aren’t kicking off at 4.30am on the west coast.
Which I guess is one indication of the growth of the sport here and the demographics that justifies this piece in the New Republic:
The problem for England is that, in another couple of decades, the U.S. will have a reasonable soccer history of its own, and its population isn’t getting smaller, and its economy isn’t likely to, either. Advantage: USA. Ditto for other former soccer minnows, African and Asian sides included. The reality for the St. George’s Cross brigades is that, while England will remain in the second half of the first division of soccer nations, it’s going to have more company there down the road. Winning a World Cup is by no means a predictable venture, requiring as it does sustained player health, favorable elimination-round match-ups, and the occasional good bounce, errant red card or well-timed opponent meltdown. But the odds of little England winning a World Cup are only going to get longer as the quadrennials march on.
Yep, even Matt Drudge is paying attention now.