Throw the audience a 7-1 blowout that was over by the 30th minute? People watched in record amounts. Throw them a listless 0-0 draw that went to penalty kicks, yet had little drama even in that stage? People watched. Summer of World Cup rolls on.
The Argentina-Netherlands semifinal match drew 6.8 million viewers to ESPN Wednesday. It is the highest-rated and most-watched World Cup semifinal ever on American television. The previous high? 6.6 million for the Brazil-Germany semifinal the day before. The friendly time zones have been a godsend to The Worldwide Leader.
Argentina’s victory was also the most-watched match ever on ESPN or ESPN2 to not feature the United States. 2.4 million unique viewers watched on WatchESPN/ESPN3. The World Cup semifinals, overall, were up 56 percent from 2010 and 45 percent from 2006.
The top 10 local markets featured most of the usual suspects: Baltimore (7.1), New York (7.0), Washington, DC (6.9), Hartford/New Haven (6.7), Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (6.3), San Diego (6.3), San Francisco (6.1), Providence (5.8), Boston (5.3), and Columbus and Richmond/Petersburg (tied – 5.1).
Through 62 matches, the World Cup is averaging 4.28 million viewers for the Disney networks, up 43 percent from 2010 and 108 percent from 2006.