ESPN may have lost the broadcast rights to the World Cup, but the network is making the most of its last hurrah with the United States-Ghana match turning in a very solid 7.0 rating. That goes down as the highest-rated men's soccer match ever on the cable channel. The 2011 Women's World Cup Final scored a 7.4 rating.
USA vs. Ghana
USA vs. Ghana
But even before that game, ESPN was already enjoying some of its best ratings ever. Through the first 11 games, the networks of ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC had averaged about 3.7 million viewers. That was a 2 percent bump over the 2010 World Cup, which of course included a weekend game featuring the United States and England on ABC. If the ratings from that England match are removed, ratings were up a rather mind-blowing 37 percent.
Those numbers don't even include the 209,000 viewers who are tuned into the average minute of a match on the WatchESPN app, which means nearly 4 million people are watching the World Cup on ESPN at any given moment.
As the ratings from the first day of the World Cup illustrated, this might even represent less than half of the total American TV audience. Univision has the Spanish-language rights and although its numbers have not yet been released, the network reported more than 5.1 million people tuned in to see Brazil play Croatia as opposed to the 4.4 million on ESPN.