June 27, 2014

WORLD CUP SKEDBALL Special Report: The 6 Top-Rated Non-US World Cup Nations

With the end of group play at the World Cup, let’s take a closer look at the countries, other than the US, that are earning the highest ratings to date on ABC and ESPN during the tournament.


Group Stage Ratings by Featured Nations (among ESPN & ABC matches) Persons 2+ Demo Ratings
Adult 18-49 Men 18-49 Men 18-34
3 matches featuring USA 10,578,000 4.17 5.46 5.48
12 others with Germany, Russia, England, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico 3,497,000 1.47 2.12 2.17
23 remaining matches not involving nations above 2,858,000 1.17 1.71 1.77

The chart above demonstrates that beyond the massive home-team rooting effect for matches featuring the US team, there is a moderate lift in ratings for matches involving six other soccer powerhouses, as well as a third tier of all other matches that are lower-rated but still quite decent in terms of audience size.  In this analysis we excluded the 10 ESPN2 matches since they usually are very low-rated because they compete directly with matches on ESPN and because ESPN2 ratings almost always are significantly lower, leaving us with 38 Group Stage matches on ESPN or ABC.  Looking at the three matches with USA playing, the audience of course averages a huge 10.6 million total viewers and young male ratings (that advertisers are buying) around a 5.5 rating — true hit program status.  Next, the 12 other matches that feature one or two of the following countries (Germany, Russia, England, Brazil, Argentina or Mexico) average about 3.5 million total viewers and 2 ratings with the young male sports sales demographics, near the overall ABC and ESPN averages and quite solid but not extraordinary.  The 23 other matches not featuring any of the previously named countries average under 3 million and under 2 ratings in the sports demo segments, but not terribly far from those levels.  There is no further discernible pattern in this tier: for example, all-Americas matches are no different on an average than all non-Americas matches.  Additionally, the audience for a Costa Rica or Italy or Japan, for example, is highly variable and really more dependent on the importance of that particular match or the time period and competition.  Frankly, the biggest surprise is the only modest lift for the non-USA soccer powerhouse matches (Germany, Brazil etc.).  The good news for World Cup rights holders in the US (including FOX starting 2018) is that American audiences are interested in watching a broad array of teams and nations.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.