Record TV numbers
Final was most-watched soccer game ever in U.S.
Posted: Monday July 12, 1999 07:54 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The success of the American team in the Women's World Cup produced the most-watched soccer game ever on U.S. network television.
The Americans' victory over China on Saturday afternoon posted a 13.3 overnight rating and a 32 share on ABC, 4 percent more that the previous record, a 12.8 for the 1994 men's World Cup final, also played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The 1994 championship game also had 1,620,000 viewers tune in on Univision, a Spanish-speaking station in the United States.
Saturday's rating was nearly double the 6.9 overnight for last year's men's World Cup final between Brazil and France.
ABC estimated 40 million viewers watched the Americans' 5-4 victory on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie.
The audience for the women dwarfed that of their male counterparts. The Americans, who finished last in the 32-nation field at France last year, averaged a 4.1 overnight rating for their three World Cup losses on ABC.
The highest rating for the U.S. men is a 10.4 overnight and 27 share for a 1-0 loss to Brazil at Stanford, Calif., in the second round of the '94 World Cup.
"No one expected these kinds of numbers," ABC spokesman Mark Mandel said. "It proves the power of big events on network television. You can still bring in nice numbers."
Overnight ratings measure the top 44 markets in the country, while the nationals, which will be released Thursday, measure the entire country. Generally, the national ratings for sports slip about 10 percent.
The Women's World Cup finale easily topped the NHL's Stanley Cup ratings, which averaged a 3.4 for the three games on Fox.
The rating the women's final is expected to be about the same as this year's NBA Finals, which averaged a 11.3/21 in prime time for San Antonio's 4-1 win over New York. However, that series went just five games and did not have the benefit of a winner-take-all game.
"You don't see these numbers unless you're watching the NFL," Mandel said. "If this event were on a Sunday afternoon, these numbers would be through the roof."
The Women's World Cup title game fell well short of this year's Super Bowl, which received the lowest rating in nearly a decade, a 40.2 national mark and a 61 share.
Television ratings started slowly for the event and picked up momentum as the women's team advanced. ABC's tournament opener between the United States and Denmark last month had a 1.7 national rating and was watched in 1.7 million homes. Their victory against Nigeria was seen in 1.4 million homes on ESPN, the win over Germany watched in 1.67 million households and the semifinal match against Brazil was viewed in 2.9 million homes, making it the largest number of households to watch a telecast on the cable network.
The rating is the percentage of TV households in the United States tuned to a program, and each point represents 994,000 homes. Each cable point represents 766,000 homes on ESPN. The share is the percentage tuned to a program among televisions in use at the time.
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