World Cup ratings continue to rise.  ESPN’s coverage of the world’s greatest tournament has seen a 26% increase in viewership through the first week (23 matches) of the 2014 World Cup compared to 2010.  This increase was expected for a couple reasons.  First, soccer’s continued growth in America has led to this World Cup having significantly more mainstream attention than any previous edition since the USA hosted in 1994.  Second, later kickoff times have helped ratings with the tournament being played in the western hemisphere.

So far, the 2014 World Cup is averaging 3.722 million viewers per match and a 2.3 household rating.  In 2010, averages through 23 matches were 2.225 million viewers and a 1.9 rating.

Here’s a comprehensive list of viewership for every World Cup game played thus far.  The Top 5 games so far are USA/Ghana, Argentina/Bosnia-Herzegovina, England/Italy, France/Honduras, and Brazil/Croatia.  The lowest rated match has been Belgium/Algeria.  All games were televised on ESPN except otherwise noted…

6/12 – Brazil vs Croatia: 4.44 million viewers

6/13 – Mexico vs Cameroon: 2.12 million viewers

6/13 – Spain vs Netherlands – 3.10 million viewers

6/13 – Chile vs Australia – 2.78 million viewers (ESPN2)

6/14 – Colombia vs Greece – 3.48 million viewers (ABC)

6/14 – Uruguay vs Costa Rica – 3.81 million viewers (ABC)

6/14 – England vs Italy – 4.62 million viewers

6/14 – Ivory Coast vs Japan – 3.68 million viewers

6/15 – Switzerland vs Ecuador – 4.01 million viewers (ABC)

6/15 – France vs Honduras – 4.60 million viewers (ABC)

6/15 – Argentina vs Bosnia-Herzegovina – 4.68 million viewers

6/16 – Germany vs Portugal – 2.67 million viewers

6/16 – Iran vs Nigeria – 2.38 million viewers

6/16 – Ghana vs USA – 11.10 million viewers

6/17 – Belgium vs Algeria – 1.83 million viewers

6/17 – Brazil vs Mexico – 4.24 million viewers

6/17 – Russia vs South Korea – 3.51 million viewers

6/18 – Australia vs Netherlands – 2.57 million viewers

6/18 – Spain vs Chile – 3.49 million viewers

6/18 – Cameroon vs Croatia – 3.23 million viewers

While the significant increase in viewership was expected, the most interesting element of World Cup ratings data is when the numbers are compared to 2006.  Eight years ago might as well represent the middle ages to a lot of soccer fans.  Whether it be in ESPN’s coverage of the event or overall popularity of the sport, 2006 seems like light years ago.  And the ratings prove that fact.

If you compare 2014 ratings to 2006, the explosion in popularity of the World Cup through 23 matches is striking:

– Household rating up 92% (2.3 vs 1.2)

– Average viewership up 116% (3.72 million vs 1.72 million)

– Men 18-49 demo up 83% (2.2 vs 1.2)

– Adults 18-49 up 100% (1.6 vs 0.8)

This longer view shows the true arc of the growth of the World Cup on television.  With the exciting nature of this year’s tournament, I’d expect these numbers to continue to rise over the course of the next month.  Especially if the United States can advance to the knockout round (and maybe even win a game there), ratings should climb higher and higher.

So far from Brazil, the viewership data is very encouraging for ESPN and for soccer fans.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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