The success of the US Women’s National Team on the field has been the subject of some debate.  Although the USWNT won what was widely considered the Group of Death, they did so in less than dominant… and less than spectacular fashion.  This tournament has marked a change in identity for the USWNT, depending on a rock solid defense to remain unbeaten and only allowing 1 goal in 3 games while scoring just 4.

But off the field?  The USWNT is riding a wave of attention and popularity we haven’t seen before.

The third group stage game against Nigeria continued the increases seen for the first two games against Australia and Sweden.  More than that though, it represents a historic audience level for the World Cup and women’s soccer as a whole.  The group stage game is now the third most watched women’s soccer game in the history of American television with 5.0 million viewers.

Via Fox Sports:

The U.S. Women’s National Team beat Nigeria 1-0 in the teams’ third and final FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2015™ Group Stage match last night in Vancouver, British Columbia, to advance to the Round of 16. And, like the team’s first two tournament matches, the FOX broadcast broke multiple audience records.

USA-Nigeria audience highlights:

– The match attracted 5.0 million viewers on FOX, making it the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Stage match ever and the most-watched soccer match ever on the network, breaking the marks set Friday for USA-Sweden (4.5 million) by 11%, according to Nielsen.

– USA-Nigeria is the third most-watched women’s soccer match of all time, trailing only the USA-China 1999 Women’s World Cup Final (17,975,000) and the Japan-USA 2011 Women’s World Cup Final (13,458,000). The Brazil-USA 1999 Women’s World Cup Semifinal drops to fourth (4.9 million), followed by USA-Sweden 2015 Women’s World Cup Group Stage (4.5 million).

– Audiences for each U.S. Group Stage match this tournament grew, beginning with 3.3 million for USA-Australia, which was televised on FOX Sports 1, to 4.5 million for USA-Sweden and 5.0 million for USA-Nigeria. The growth from Match 1 to Match 3 is 52%.

– The audience for USA-Nigeria (5.0 million) is +285% better than the audience for the third USA Women’s World Cup Group Stage match on ESPN in 2011 (1.3 million).

Simply incredible.  The growth for the World Cup this year, and especially USWNT games, has been staggering.  Some of it can be attributed to games airing on broadcast versus cable.  Some of it can be attributed to timeslots and timezones.  But those things can’t entirely explain away nearly quadrupling the audience to the corresponding game last year.  That’s just absurd, and some of the most amazing growth we’ve ever seen in ten years at Awful Announcing.  If the USWNT can keep this up, and get to the semifinals or finals, who knows just what new viewership records might be set.

[Fox Sports]

About Matt Yoder

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

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