World Cup Final Draws Combined 24.3 Million Viewers to ABC, Univision

It’s the most-viewed men’s World Cup Final game ever on broadcast; third most-viewed telecast of any kind on Univision

Last Updated: July 12, 2010 @ 4:20 PM

A total of 24.3 million viewers cumulatively watched the World Cup final match on ABC and Univision on Sunday, in which Spain defeated The Netherlands 1-0.

It was the most-watched men's World Cup final ever on ABC, drawing 15.5 million viewers, and was the most-watched World Cup final on Univision, drawing 8.8 million viewers.

Only the 1999 women's World Cup final — in which the U.S. defeated China in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. — drew more broadcast TV viewers for a Cup final, 17.9 million. 

FIFA itself predicted on Sunday before the final that more than 700 million people around the world would watch the match (the same total that watched the 2006 final worldwide). There was no immediate announcement on what the worldwide figure for viewership for yesterday's match was.

Sunday's game on ABC drew 30 percent more viewers than the last Cup final in 2006, when Italy defeated France and drew 12 million viewers, 3.5 million less.

This year's final on Univision was up 49 percent over 2006, when its telecast for Italy-France drew 5.9 million, or 2.9 million less.

Clearly, the presence of Spain in the Final helped Hispanic network Univision. The telecast was the third most-watched program of any kind in the history of the network, behind only the network's broadcast of the Mexico-Argentina match on June 27 of this year's Cup (9.4 million viewers) and the finale of Univision's novela "Destlando Amor" ("Essence of Love") on Dec. 3, 2007 (9 million).

From a household-rating point of view, the Spain-Netherlands game (8.1) ranks the fourth-highest men's World Cup game on record, behind Italy-Brazil in the 1994 Final (9.5), the 1994 U.S.-Brazil round-of-16 match (9.3) and the 2010 U.S. vs. Ghana match (8.5).

The final match on ABC was most watched in San Francisco, which had a household rating in that market of 14.7. It was followed by San Diego (13.6), New York (13.1), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (12.0), Washington, D.C. (11.9), Los Angeles (11.3), Austin, Texas (104.), Seattle-Tacoma (10.0), Cincinnati (9.5) and Boston (9.1).

Overall, the 2010 World Cup was the most-viewed Cup ever on English language TV in the U.S. In the 64 matches, ESPN Networks, which include ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, averaged a 2.1 household rating, 2.2 million households and 3.2 million viewers per match. The rating is up 31 percent from 2006, households are up 32 percent and viewers are up 41 percent. Overall, the top five markets for viewing were Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, New York, Washington, D.C., San Diego and San Francisco, in that order.

Through the semi-finals last week, an estimated 105 million people tuned into ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 during the World Cup, up 17 percent from the 90 million who did during the Cup in 2006.