2010 World Cup Ratings: Time Is On American Soccer’s Side

Many have observed that World Cup ratings on American television grew 41% from 2006 to 2010, with the 24.4 million tuning in for the World Cup final on ABC and Univision a record for any soccer game on American television, ever (that’s not counting those watching at bars or via the internet, where numbers were also way up: espn3.com attracted 7.4 million unique viewers during the tournament).

That’s all great. But there are a few more numbers that might actually speak more to the likely future relative growth of the sport’s popularity here, at least on television.

The median ages for viewers of major sporting events on American television over the past year, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

World Cup: 37.7

NBA Finals: 40.7

Super Bowl: 43.0

Daytona 500: 44.9

Stanley Cup: 44.9

World Series: 49.9

U.S. Open golf: 57.8

According to Nielson, 49% of the 2010 World Cup television audience was between the ages 18 and 49. 57% was male, 43% female. I don’t have any demographic breakdowns for ethnicity, but in Spanish-language television, Univision’s broadcasts were up 50% in total ratings, with 8,821,358 tuning in for the 2010 World Cup final, and was particularly strong in the 18-34 age demographic (3,259,553 viewers for the final in that group, up 53% on 2006).

International soccer broadcasts are, then, right in the sweet spot for sponsorship, says the Sports Business Journal: “Brands can expect a better return on their sports marketing objectives if they target fans age 18-34, non-Caucasian fans, and/or households with kids.”

Either way, just a little more numerical proof that soccer has demographics on its side in North America.

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