The World Cup – now more popular than the NHL

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Ratings for this years World Cup have been among the strongest ever in the United States. Fans flocked to their televisions to watch both the US – England match and the US – Slovakia match (even though it was shown at 7am PDT).

The US – England match is one of the highest rated matches ever, and certainly the highest group-stage match ever shown on American television. The US – Slovenia match wasn’t too shabby either. It had slightly fewer viewers than the US – Italy match in 2006, but that one was shown on ABC in the afternoon versus the early morning weekday match on ESPN.

Even compared to “American” sports, soccer is doing quite well.

The US – England match outdrew the Stanley Cup Finals. Even Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, which drew one of the highest ratings ever with 8.9 million viewers, was still much lower than US soccer. And it was shown in primetime.

The NBA and MLB have some breathing room – both are in the high teens as far as viewership. But when the World Cup Finals reaches it’s conclusion, my money is on the World Cup being competitive with their ratings. The finals went from 6 million viewers in 2002 (4 AM PDT game) to 12 million in 2006 (afternoon game). The World Cup Final on an afternoon in mid-July could add another 6 million to 2006’s total, putting it in the company of truly American sports. Look out.

Follow all my World Cup statistical analysis here.

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