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Domestic World Cup TV ratings plummet with US elimination

Soccer fans attend a Budweiser World Cup global viewing party at Boston's Paradise Rock Club to watch the USMNT take on Ghana
Soccer fans attend a Budweiser World Cup global viewing party at Boston's Paradise Rock Club to watch the USMNT take on Ghana
Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images

If the United States men’s national team gave American TV networks tremendous ratings during their four World Cup games, though the general American public could care less about the rest of the games. During the four quarterfinal matches occurring on Friday and Saturday, an average of 10 million Americans tuned in to each game with Colombia’s loss against Brazil as the most highly viewed match. Considering an estimated 24.7 million Americans watched the U.S. against Portugal in the group stage and 21.5 million against Belgium in the round of 16, ABC, ESPN and even Univision have taken a massive hit.

To answer the question whether or not Americans care about soccer, the answer is yes; unless the Yanks have been eliminated from the tournament. Though difficult to gauge an accurate number due to out-of-home viewings, the U.S. versus Portugal game was the most-watched soccer game in the history of the United States with a TV and online stream audience growing up to 24.7 million; more Americans watched this game than the 2014 NBA Finals and 2013 World Series. Once the quarterfinals started, the game between Colombia and Brazil garnered 11.8 million viewers; nearly a full 10 million less than the U.S. against Belgium days earlier.

Domestically speaking, these viewership numbers are a great sign for the sport. Soccer in America is growing in popularity every year, much of that success can be directly attributed to the men and women of the national teams. Although losing to Belgium in the round of 16 seems like a monumental defeat, it’s anything but. Team U.S.A. have been shunned as nobodies in previous international competitions, more like a little brother rather than a legitimate soccer nation; but Tim Howard’s historic game and the team’s inspired play throughout the tournament have proven to the rest of the world that the Yanks can and will be contenders in future tournaments.

A World Cup trophy may not be likely in the next tournament or the one after that, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann is moving the team in the right direction. There is a growing market for soccer in the States, especially after advancing out of the “group of death.” To perform even better at the next World Cup, Klinsmann is calling on the MLS to up its game over the next four years. America’s soccer league has a long way to go before it’ll be on par with the top UEFA leagues, but it seems to be getting better and growing in popularity every year. Another thing the United States men’s national team must focus on for the next World Cup is finding potential replacements for Howard and captain Clint Dempsey, TV ratings would be sure to break even more soccer records with players of greater caliber.