Here’s a remarkable stat for you: the 2015 Women’s World Cup scored more viewers than the clinching game of this year’s NBA Finals. The most watched NBA Finals in over a decade.
Carli Lloyd is bigger than LeBron James. Steph Curry is no match for Julie Johnston. Matthew Dellavedova is yesterday’s news. It’s Meghan Klingenberg’s world now.
Stop. Pause. Think about that for a second and what an amazing feat that is for women’s soccer.
The US Women’s National Team’s 5-2 victory over Japan to win their third World Cup title will now go down in the record books as the most watched soccer game in the history of American television. 25.4 million viewers watched the game on Fox while another 1.27 tuned in on Spanish language Telemundo. All totaled, the 26.67 million viewers just pipped last year’s men’s World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany (26.5 million viewers combined between ABC and Univision) to claim top spot.
But as stated above, the context of the massive viewership for the USWNT’s triumph goes beyond just soccer or just women’s sports. It stands as one of the most watched sporting events of the last 12 months, period. In fact, only a few select events including NFL playoff games, the College Football Playoff, and the NCAA Tournament Championship Game have toppled it in the ratings.
Here’s the list of sporting events that the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final was able to outdraw on television:
2015 Women’s World Cup Final – USA vs Japan: 26.67 million viewers (Fox/Telemundo)
2014 World Cup Final – Germany vs Argentina: 26.5 million viewers (ABC/Univision)
2014 World Series Game 7 – Giants vs Royals: 23.5 million viewers (Fox)
2015 NBA Finals Game 6 – Warriors vs Cavaliers: 23.3 million viewers (ABC)
2015 Final Four – Wisconsin vs Kentucky: 22.6 million viewers (Turner)
2015 NFL Wild Card Game – Panthers vs Cardinals: 21.7 million viewers (ESPN)
2015 Belmont Stakes – American Pharoah wins Triple Crown: 18.6 million viewers (NBC)
2015 Masters Final Round: 14 million viewers (CBS)
2014 Iron Bowl – Alabama vs Auburn: 13.5 million viewers (ESPN)
2015 Daytona 500: 13.4 million viewers (Fox)
2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 – Blackhawks vs Lightning: 8.0 million viewers (NBC)
Hopefully these ratings statistics answer a couple talking points we will never have to hear again:
1) Soccer is un-American.
2) Nobody cares about women’s sports.
If you’re one of the dinosaurs still echoing those sentiments today after the historic weekend that was, you might as well still be clinging to the idea that the sun revolves around the earth.
We can debate what this means in the long-term for the beautiful game, the NWSL, and everything else that it entails in the months and years to come. (If you’re dying for a take to put this rating in a longer view, read this examining the high ratings of last year’s World Cup because many of the same tenets apply here.)
But for now, let’s take a few moments and breathe this fact in – the Women’s World Cup Final drew more fans than the clinching game of three out of four of the major professional sports leagues in this country. It drew more fans than the premier events in golf, auto racing, and horse racing. More than the Final Four. More than an NFL playoff game! That is incredible.