World Cup TV Ratings Keep Pace With NBA Finals

USA vs. England match beats first four games of NBA Finals in ratings game

By tamer el-ghobashy
|  Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010  |  Updated 8:26 AM CDT
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The soccer revolution is being televised.

Saturday's World Cup match between the U.S. and England drew massive viewership numbers that beat the first four games of the NBA Finals.

The hotly anticipated match, which saw the U.S. achieve an unlikely draw against the European giants, attracted 13 million viewers on ABC and 4.1 million on Univision for a total of 17.1 million.

The battle for NBA supremacy between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers -- which is posting its highest number in six years -- drew 14.1 million, 15.7 million, 16 million and 16.4 million viewers respectively through the first four games.

Game 5 of the NBA championship restored order, however, posting 18.2 million.

Still, the stats show an impressive spike in interest in the World Cup with overall viewership up more than double the 2006 World Cup.

The USA vs. England match was the fifth-highest rating for a soccer game ever on ABC. The highest-rated soccer game in the U.S. remains the 1999 Women's World Cup Final that drew 18 million viewers.

This year's broadcast is being shared by ESPN, ABC and Univision.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup is off to a tremendous start for ESPN,” John Skipper, an ESPN's executive, told Mediaweek. “Strong viewership on television and other platforms...and the overwhelmingly positive reaction we are receiving from fans demonstrate the enormous popularity of this global sports event and how ESPN is uniquely positioned to cover it.”

Those who tuned in to watch the USA battle England were treated to an exciting match that saw England score within minutes. But a goalkeeping blunder on a shot by Clint Dempsey drew the USA level, giving the team and fans hope that they will qualify for the second round.

The USA's next game is Friday against Slovenia who beat Algeria to take the top position in the group.

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