There’s a lesson Fox is learning with the Women’s World Cup, and that’s if you smack a red, white and blue flag on something—or black, white and slime, thankyouverymuch Nike—people will tune in.
To date, Fox and Fox Sports 1 have averaged nearly 4.4 million viewers for U.S. Women’s soccer matches during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which are tremendous numbers for Fox, especially for the cable network absolutely dying for ratings.
The knockout round victory over Colombia drew 4.7 million viewers, per Fox, topping the previous record for soccer coverage on the network. From Fox PR:
USA – Colombia attracted 4.7 million viewers, setting a new record for soccer on FOX Sports 1, beating the previous mark of 3.3 million set earlier in the tournament (USA-Australia Group Stage) by 42%. It is the most-watched soccer match on cable since last year’s World Cup. Viewership for the match peaked at 6.4 million in the 9:30-9:45 PM ET quarter hour.
What Fox is saying without saying there is that the Women’s World Cup matches for the United States have crushed NBC’s EPL coverage last season, and ESPN’s European qualifiers, U.S. men’s friendlies and other well-rated footy matches. The release continued with more FS1 back patting.
With an audience of 4.7 million, USA – Colombia now ranks as the third most-watched program in FOX Sports 1 history, trailing only Game 4 (5.1 million) and Game 5 (4.9 million) of the 2014 National League Championship Series.
That is pretty significant for FS1, because Fox has taken a fair amount of criticism for putting marquee events like MLB playoffs, World Cup matches and the U.S. Open on a seldom-watched cable outfit like FS1. To show the network can get a good rating is great for Fox, and it legitimizes the decision to move these events to cable.
Granted, the highest rating for the U.S. women’s team was still the Nigeria win in the group stage which was shown on a Tuesday night opposite the NBA Finals on Fox, but the Nigeria match peaked at 6.3 million, slightly behind the peak rating of the win over Colombia. That is significant for the network.
How about a little more Fox bragging:
While third in average audience, USA – Colombia is the most-watched telecast in FOX Sports 1 history among Adults 18-49 with 2.3 million viewers, dropping UFC FIGHT NIGHT: MCGREGOR VS. SIVER (1/18/15) to second (1.7 million).
The U.S. women’s soccer team has the highest rating in FS1 history in the 18-49 category, beating a brawny, testosterone-fueled UFC event? Nobody tell Andy Benoit of SI. I can’t imagine how he’d
tweet take that.
Not only did the victory over Colombia do well on FS1, but it did well on the Fox Sports Go app, with over 120,000 unique streams, more than any other event in the app’s history, including Game 7 of the World Series.
These are serious numbers for Fox, and good numbers for U.S. Soccer.
Though be fair, the U.S. Women are averaging the same TV ratings as the entire 2014 World Cup in Brazil did for ESPN at around 4.5 million viewers per match. The U.S. men topped out at more than 18 million viewers for the match against Portugal.
As the U.S. advance along in the 2015 World Cup, Fox will hope the ratings increase to somewhere near half that number.
Can the women get to eight figures? A trip to the semifinals on Tuesday June 30 could help reach that. A trip to the World Cup final—the 2011 final had 13.4 million viewers—would certainly do it.
Let’s be sure about one thing: Fox certainly hopes the U.S. women keep winning, as the more red, white, blue, black and slime—I mean seriously Nike—we get, the better ratings Fox can trumpet.